Plants, Pestilence and Politics is a new exhibition inspired by the Bruny Island Quarantine Station. The exhibition is now showing at the Art at the Point Gallery in the Bruny Island township of Dennes Point until 25th April, 2013. The Gallery opens from 10.00am to 4.00pm daily (closed on Wednesdays).

Quarantine Station - Margaret Vandenberg

Corset mixed media by Margaret Vandenberg (photo supplied)

Bruny Island Quarantine Station: A New Exhibition

by Michael Morgan

The history and associations of the Quarantine Station have evoked a response from the local artists whose works will be on display at this exhibition. Wild Care, Tasmania now administers the 320 acres of bushland, buildings and ruins at Barnes Bay which once belonged to the Quarantine Station.

It doesn’t take much effort to imagine the Nueonne aboriginal people freely traversing the area. In 1830 to 1836, under the direction of Governor Arthur, George Augustus Robinson was told to “be friendly” with them and “re-settle” them. European settlement began in the area when Jan Cox lived at Shellwood Cottage on the property. In 1884, the State Maritime Quarantine Station was established; 1914 German nationals were interned there, and Doreen Miley was resident in 1950.

A new book by Kathy Duncan, Bruny Island Quarantine Station is available at $36.00.

Margaret Vandenberg: Corsets and Teacups

Corsets, cameos, paintings, drawings, digital photos, fabric and textile are some of the mediums used in this exhibition.

Why Corsets? The fashion in France in 1300 was for a laced bodice and from 1600 until the 20th century, iron framed and then whale bone and wood, all with very tight lacing. In 1940, they were called “Merry Widows.”

The indefatigable Margaret Vandenberg uses the Corset as a symbol of restraining, similar to the way of life of people constrained by pandemic and war. Box framed, these undergarments are mixed media inventions, collaged and embellished artefacts that tell of the particular women that are part of Bruny Island history:

  • Shellwood Cottage
  • Pneumonic Influenza
  • Horticulture and Gardening

Such are the societal comments that surface on close observation that these works deserve.

Margaret Vandenberg also exhibits large collaged paper mache teacups that are being sold to assist the Wild Care Foundation. The teacups again are the imagined symbols of friendship with perhaps the indigenous population.

Quarantine Station - Bruny Island Exhibition

Paper Mache Cups by Margaret Vandenberg (photo supplied)

Art at the Point Gallery: Plants, Pestilence and Politics

Cameos, brooches and jewellery made of sterling silver, stainless steel and embedded photo images are shown by Janie Combes. Here one can hold history in your hand.

Kate Morton-Mills shows hand blown glass – Quarantine Glimpses. These give a sense of colourful fragility.

Barbara Tassell shows her manipulated digital prints with titles such as Glass Windows, Native Vegetation and Interrupted Journey. These works give the feeling of archaeological objects from a dig.

Quarantine Station - Barbara Tassell

Digital print by Barbara Tassell (photo supplied)

Lois Bury shows four water colours of rare native orchids found on site. These are delicate botanical illustrations. Her miniature water colours on embossed paper are intimate statements ideal for a limited edition book.

Marlene Schmidt, with hand felted wool and silk gives a tactile presentation of the old glasshouse still on the Quarantine Station site.

Irene Cowell, with wry humour and articulate skill, uses mixed paper media to create a three dimensional sculpture Spreading Roots at Shellwood – a tableau of people under a Yew Tree with an Owl on top surveying all.

Quarantine Station - Irene Cowell

Paper Sculpture by Irene Cowell (photo supplied)

The Plants, Pestilence and Politics Exhibition, inspired by the Bruny Island Quarantine Station, is another that deserves a close look.

Michael and Gabrielle Morgan moved from Phillip Island in Victoria to live on Bruny Island last March. The semi-seclusion suits them both; Gabrielle likes to pursue her writing interests, while Michael paints. Gabrielle has been published in regional newspapers and magazines; since researching her family history she has published four genealogy articles. She was fascinated by links to Tasmania with some of her forbears. This has intensified her interest in Tasmania and she has been reading much of its history since arriving here.

Photos supplied to Think Tasmania by Michael Morgan.

Map: Art at the Point Gallery, Bruny Island Tasmania…

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