Time Peace Alter

The Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Centre

April/July  2022

Kath Egan is a Northern Rivers-based artist whose subtle interventions with nostalgic objects invite the viewer to consider alternative views to our commonly accepted narratives about time.

Presenting assemblages, photography, video works and installation, this exhibition includes work that explores how Jungian archetypes and universal spiritual traditions interact with timelessness through story, ritual and reverence. 

Egan considers each person as a vessel where the time-bound and eternal meet. She asks, what if we were to overcome our addiction to busyness and live more timelessly as our ancestors once did? Would our internal lives prosper? How would this then change the way we interact with nature and each other? The artist investigates how ancient stories and myths may assist us in making meaning in tumultuous times

The culmination of works in Time Peace Alter came together during the extreme weather events of March 2022 when floods tragically impacted our region. Time stretched, slowed down and for some, snapped back into the usual hurried pace in the weeks that followed. 

Reflecting on these events while considering the exhibition’s themes, Egan wrote: 

As a result of the tragic fate of our community, we collectively experienced a shift in priorities with the very human traits of how we chose to conduct ourselves in this crisis – with care, generosity, honesty, hope and respect for each other. We witnessed the expression of deep archetypal traits. The destiny of our region was determined by individuals within the community as they fulfilled diverse self-appointed roles including: the Hero, who conducted rescue missions within the rushing floodwaters; the Leader who stepped up to coordinate the volunteerin the clean up and recovery; and the Caregivers who came together to support those in need with compassion.

This exhibition is an expression of gratitude and love for the community of the Northern Rivers and beyond. The recovery of this region will be long and slow. May we continue to express agape lovefor each other."

We were made for these times

Kath Egan and Kate Rohde

Lismore Regional Gallery

February/March 2022

Kate Rohde and Kath Egan share an interest in the memory and associations in objects, subverting this with playful twists and changing our relationship to these loaded items. The artists created new work for We were made for these times in response to the personal and universal experience of upheaval and discontent experienced through the pandemic. The exhibition speaks to realm of the psyche, conjuring memories and concepts materialised in form. While several of the works are somewhat gothic in nature expressing a Victorian memento mori-melancholy, there are also pieces of optimism and hope. The works signal a glitch whilst the artists searched for equilibrium and meaning during this tumultuous time. 

Northern Rivers based artist, Kath Egan’s totems of nostalgic domestic objects and polished reflective surfaces invite the viewer into a space of imagination and contemplation, evoking a state of wonder and hint at the sublime in the mundane. Her work seeks to portray a broad and inclusive spirituality unconfined by institutions and dogma. It is an invitation to consider the role Jungian archetypes and mythology may play in providing us with wisdom in these uncertain times and a new psychological framework. 

“I am looking towards a new narrative based in ecology, regeneration and renewal rather than continuing our worship of economic rationalism.”

Kate Rohde, based in Melbourne, expresses a personal response in her work speaking to the small joys that have helped her get through this time, in particular connecting with nature and creativity. “For me art making, particularly sculpting has long been therapeutic, and the additional time I’ve been able to spend in the studio has helped to maintain my sense of equilibrium and happiness during this time of unrest.” Rohde’s sculptural pieces are informed by the forms of historical funerary urns, each one a symbolic response to experiences of individuals close to the artist during the turmoil of the past two years.

Gravity and Grace

Byron School of Art Project Space

October/November 2019

Homemaking is a role traditionally fulfilled by women, and is often overlooked and undervalued. An inviting home fulfils the basic human need for belonging - it is a space to feel safe, to rest and replenish. Through the actions of creating a place of warmth and acceptance, she invites grace into the home. The collection and placement of meaningful objects, along with heartfelt prayers of hope for her closest and dearest, can be seen as rituals of faith to connect with the unseen power of grace.

In Gravity and Grace the work speaks of my experience as a wife, mother and daughter, and of my Croatian Catholic cultural heritage. In the work titled Portrait of Great, Great Aunt Peg - a tower of inherited Victorian chairs - the conversation expands to include my own children’s story of origin, and the strong women in their paternal line.

“If left unconscious, personal histories have a tendency to loop through space and time with repeated narratives being passed on through the generations.”

My mother was a migrant woman of the Croatian Diaspora. When she 19 years old she fled over the border into Austria, then made her way to Australia to create a new life. It was the 1960s, and she belonged to the generation of women who displayed their delicate glass wear and shining, wedding present dinner sets in polished cabinets. My mother’s glass wear was presented, trophy-like, as symbols of her new found stability, and pointed to an optimistic future for her first generation Australian children. They were on display but out of reach, only to be used for the ultimate and rare occasion of family visiting from abroad.

“As an artist I reflect on the unrecognised power of homemaking and how crucial mental, emotional and physical health is for a mother to be able to fulfil this role.”

We live in a time that has become more and more secular as religious institutions crumble from within. We need to be free of religious dogma, and the betrayal of these institutions is deeply painful. The weekly and daily rituals within the home that once fostered connection and anchored the spiritual life of the family have faded, and in their place are computer games, technology and over scheduling. How do we keep open a space for reflection that welcomes grace into our busy contemporary lives?

An Inherited Narrative

Byron School of Art Graduate Show

December 2018

I have childhood memories of painting life-sized murals for my birthday party on metres of butcher’s paper that wrapped around the kitchen and lounge room walls and almost reached the ceiling. The paper and paint had been a gift from our neighbour Margo, who was an art teacher at the time, I’m sure Margo Neale never realised what a positive impact she had made on our large family by the simple act of suppling art materials.

I also recall stripping my bed bare and dragging the sheets over the freshly mowed lawn and pegging them onto the silvered timber of the backyard fence. During the long, hot summer days in suburban Canberra my six sisters and I would create tent-like shelters, domestic spaces of play and imagination. Meanwhile my mother spent hours at her sewing machine making floral dresses for her daughters — it was a respite from the housework, the chaos and noise of everyday life, her patience and generosity of spirit allowed creativity to thrive in our home.

Today my studio is a place to play and a respite from my own duties of maintaining a household. I engage in the creative process intuitively, and the materials choose me — discarded domestic vessels, furniture, a deconstructed piano are arranged and rearranged while I explore composition, balance, tension, form and line. Sometimes I cast in concrete or plaster from sewn fabric moulds and create my own “found” object.

In my installations I re-contextualise these found objects in an exploration of social and personal connection, I question notions of identity, memory and time. I consider what it means to be a first generation Australian of migrants from post war Communist Croatia. I process the extraordinary challenges my parents faced.

How does the family come to terms with the loss of a previously shared language and culture? In this ongoing construction and reconstruction of identity I consider what do we inherit from our parents and what in turn do we pass on to our children?