Culture

Utopian Visions of Home

The Gallery of Small Things presents ceramic artist Grace Brown’s first solo exhibition in Canberra

Grace Brown’s “Daydreams” and “Shimmering Sands” | Photo by Chip Mooney, with permission from GOST

Down an unassuming residential street in the Australian capital of Canberra, lies a gallery dedicated to small works of art. Follow the path through a luscious garden to a small studio, and The Gallery of Small Things (GOST) welcomes you with open arms.

It was quite by a stroke of luck that I was planning a gallery visit just as I saw an Instagram announcement from Grace Brown that her exhibition at GOST — “Home” — was finally going ahead. The even greater luck was that the dates matched: it would be the very first day of the exhibition. Winner of the 2019 “Little Things Art Prize” — the prize of which was a solo exhibition at GOST — “Home” was repeatedly pushed back due to lockdowns and state border closures. The recent easing of restriction meant that the works could finally travel from Grace’s Melbourne studio to the Canberra gallery.

I had been following Grace’s work for a while and was so excited to see them in person. Their inviting architectural forms remind me of Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy’s masterpieces of social housing. Their terracotta or glazed shades ground the works in the terracotta and whitewashed Mediterranean villas of my childhood summer holidays. The stairs and arched windows an echo of Escher’s impossibilities. Grace’s work is utopian, but realistically so, grounded in our lived experiences and histories. Each piece offers a “gateway to a different world” — an escape from the pandemic-affected lives of the last two years during which these pieces were meticulously hand-crafted.

Grace’s work delivered what was promised, and more. Enhanced by the simple curation and pleasant surrounds of the gallery, the unique forms of each piece create stories, their different textures telling tales of desert abodes, seaside villas and volcanic hideouts. This exhibition was pure joy.

Grace Brown’s “Home” runs until March 6th at The Gallery of Small Things, Canberra.

Grace Brown’s “Desert Shrine” | Photograph by Anne Masters, with permission

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Rosalind is an Australia-based doctor and Fellow of the RACGP. She is currently studying for her Masters in Islamic Studies and Classical Arabic.

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Rosalind Noor

Rosalind Noor

Rosalind is an Australia-based doctor and Fellow of the RACGP. She is currently studying for her Masters in Islamic Studies and Classical Arabic.

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