As Leon van Schaik argues in his essay ‘Allan Powell at TarraWarra’, ‘creativity arises in the actuality of the province and is honed in the discourse of the metropolis’. He refers to an ‘in-between situation, regionally and culturally’, noting that ‘TarraWarra creates a cusp between these intimately linked conditions, where creativity can be reflected upon’. It is precisely this terrain which is explored in the exhibition urban/exurban.
One of the most entrenched ways of looking at cities is through a suburban/urban or metropolitan/provincial division. By and large the city is still seen as a place to work but not live, while the role of the provinces has become increasingly complicated by changed economic and social pressures. The urban is ugly and real while the suburban is idyllic and ideal. This metaphorical distinction extends to the provincial fringes and certainly to the polarities which are perceived, or sometimes perpetuated, by those situated in either realm.
The photographic work in urban/exurban maps out the shifting landscapes of the urban and the non-urban (or exurban) and the pleasures and anxieties which exist in both. Most often, such explorations are negotiated from within an urban context and superimposed onto the regions but, in this instance, we took the region as the point of departure and the site of contemplation, and attempt to reconcile its position within a broader cultural and social framework.
The exhibition also considers the changing meanings of, and uses for, urban and non-urban spaces: how the city can be both a place of prosperity and a site of poverty and alienation, and how the superficial beauty and symmetry of the suburbs and the regions can be at once comforting and stifling.
The artists included in urban/exurban are Susan Fereday, Charmaine Hardy, Bill Henson, Patricia Piccinini, Darren Sylvester, Blair Trethowan and A Constructed World.