Artist uncovers the beauty in debris

THOSE who went through them need no reminder of the devastating 2011 Queensland floods. But a Brisbane visual artist has found the beauty among the destruction, finding a way to honour the event through art.

In her latest exhibition, Traces, Jennifer Long has used pieces of debris from the floods within some of her artwork, using a range of media to provide ''a way of translating and understanding, perhaps honouring events, both personal and far removed''.

''Basically it is looking for marks and meanings about floods and disasters,'' Long said. ''I used the fragments in my art. It is looking for memory traces, physical traces … verbal traces are what started me off on the exhibition, just phrases and words, it started with verbal traces.''

Those verbal traces from news reports and personal stories are explained through three media: oil paintings on canvas, etchings and collages. ''For me, branching out in collage and etching was a great move, I really feel that is pushing my art,'' she said. ''People are looking at things differently. In my case, it was a chance to use the fragments in a different way - rather than just painting the image; I could tear up paper and fragment copper plates in the etching.

''I get inspiration from detail, I am fascinated by detail, so that is what really captures my eye first, rather than the overall picture. I look at detail and then I move outwards, so it could be the fragments are blue and white china and fragments of pottery and in a scene by a creek, it could be a fragment of an image of debris.''

Works such as After the Flood, River in the Tree, Tangle and I Hear for the First Time the River in the Tree capture the details from a flooded Brisbane, and, Long hopes, also show the beauty of the recovery.

''I was really determined to bring out the new growth, the new life which comes after a flood or a disaster, just little hints of the beauty that you can find among all that debris,'' she said.

Traces runs until October 28 at the Graydon Gallery, New Farm.

The story Artist uncovers the beauty in debris first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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