Imaging the Apple

Exhibition dates: 6 April - 2 June 2005

Imaging the apple features works by thirty three contemporary Australian artists. Each artist has approached the subject of the apple from a unique point of view. All of the works are created on the same format of a canvas 30 cm square.

David Keeling Apple on a tree 2003 oil on linen courtesy Niagara Galleries Melbourne.
David Keeling Apple on a tree 2003 oil on linen courtesy Niagara Galleries Melbourne.

Imaging the apple is a tasty collection of images that are easily accessible to the general public but with enough substance for the specialised art audience.

The travelling exhibition proved to be extremely popular at interstate venues. The University Art Gallery was the only venue in NSW.

The thirty two images of apples were commissioned by curator Dr John R. Neeson. He wanted artists to choose an apparently mundane image and explore its pictorial associations. These included the idea of the apple as “dangerous temptation (shades of Snow White), disobedience and clandestine pleasures of the flesh.” Tasmanian photographer Pat Brassington responded to his brief with Apple Royale, a sensual green apple that splits open to expose its meaty pink core.

The exhibition included paintings, photographs and digital prints in a variety of styles, from painterly realism to the surreal.

Several artists made verbal and visual puns on the symbolic meaning of the apple. These included Jenny Watson’s sardonic The apple of my eye and Euan Macleod’s transformation of an apple into The head of Orpheus.

A sense of humour was playfully evident in Baconesque, Juan Ford’s irreverent painting of a stuffed hogshead and Julia Ciccarone’s fairytale vision of an apple seed.

Stewart MacFarlane, The green apple
Stewart MacFarlane, The green apple 2003 oil on canvas. courtesy of the artist.

Other artists explored the iconic status of the apple in popular culture. Stephen Bush’s example was a deadpan portrayal of the ubiquitous ‘apple’ computer and Peter Burke’s was a giant billboard promoting healthy eating over fast food.

The artists are from Victoria, Tasmania and NSW and have a variety of backgrounds with emerging talents displayed alongside artists with well established careers. Sydney artists included Margaret Olley and Euan Macleod.

The exhibiting artists were: Tom Alberts, Pat Brassington, Stephen Bush, Peter Burke, Jon Campbell, Sadie Chandler, Julia Ciccarone, Greg Creek, Maryanne Coutts, Lesley Dumbrell, Janenne Eaton, Sue Ford, Juan Ford, Janina Green, Elizabeth Gower, Philip Hunter, Lilly Hibberd, Dale Hickey, David Keeling, John Kelly, Stewart MacFarlane, Euan MacLeod Tim McMonagle, Vera Moller, Lewis Miller, Nat & Ali, John R. Neeson, Margaret Olley, Mary Lou Pavlovic, Elissa Sadgrove, Guy Stuart and Jenny Watson.

Eaton Red Delicious red 2003,acrylic and enamel on canvas Courtesy Conny Dietzschold Gallery

Eaton Red Delicious red 2003,acrylic and enamel on canvas Courtesy Conny Dietzschold Gallery

As an introduction to the exhibition Sioux Garside gave a lecture tracing the iconography of the apple in the history of art on Thursday 12 May 2005. The lecture in the Nicholson Museum provided the context for two significant apple themed paintings in the Art Collection, The Judgement of Paris 1950 by Australian artist James Gleeson and Adam and Eve (c 1530) by Flemish artist Michiel Coxcie.

This was a travelling exhibition curated by Dr John R Neeson, and the University of Ballarat with sponsorship from Telstra country wide and Nets Victoria.