Alumni students and staff from the ANU School of Art and Design (previously Canberra School of Art and ANU School of Art) are numerously represented in the collection through purchases, generous donations by artists and patrons and through the School of Art and Design’s Emerging Artists Support Scheme. In this series of posts we introduce a selection of alumni artists and their works in the collection, and give a brief insight into their lives and art practices.
Ruth Waller’s Lamentation in five episodes 2005, was acquired for the ANU Art Collection in 2008. We invited Ruth to provide some insight into her work in the collection, her experience at the ANU and a little about her current creative life:
Lamentation in Five Episodes was first exhibited in 2005, as one of a series called Lamentations after paintings from the Low Countries made following the death of my mother, Edith. I had built a series of small sculptures out of cardboard packaging, the arrangement of which drew on early Netherlandish paintings depicting grief over the body of Christ. I was struck by the ways painters like Memling, Petrus Christus and Dieric Bouts conveyed grief via the dynamics of the postures, drapes and headwear of assembled mourners and I sought to translate that through the ways I cut, twisted and re-formed the cardboard. These became the models for paintings. The paintings were made using layers of dilute white acrylic on dark grounds, slowly building up the tones to define the separation of planes. While neither my mother nor I have any interest in religion, it was my mother who first opened my eyes to the particular beauty of Netherlandish painting of this period.
I taught Painting at ANU School of Art & Design from 2006-2018. I also completed my Masters in Art History and Theory at the school, focusing on late Medieval Sienese predella paintings. I was represented by Watters Gallery in Sydney from 1981- 2019 and am currently with Nancy Sever Gallery in Canberra.
For the duration of the current viral crisis, I have come to focus on making modest sized brush & ink studies of botanical and geological forms on Chinese rice paper, working at home on our dining table. I see this as a kind of meditative practice: a discipline which requires slow, complete immersion and close attention. My work is also influenced by my daily bushwalks on O’Connor Ridge (and elsewhere) where I often photograph visually striking moments which I post on Instagram.
You can find more information about Ruth Waller and her practice via her instagram: @ruthwaller6060