'Sydney 6' Hinders, Lewers, Plates: Abstract artists, friends, partners, siblings, 1940s-197
Frank and Margel Hinder, Gerald and Margo Lewers and Carl and Jocelyn Plate were passionate promoters of twentieth century abstract and non-figurative art movements. As founding or early members and exhibitors with Sydney’s Contemporary Art Society (CAS), they explored a wide variety of materials, frequently worked beyond painting and embraced three-dimensional form in their work. The challenging work of these six artists defied the gendered norm of the post-war years in Australia and remained on the cutting edge throughout their working lives. The Lewers house at Emu Plains, now the Penrith Regional Gallery and Lewers Bequest (PRG&LB), the CAS and Carl Plate’s Notanda Gallery, were their hubs.
Exhibited together, the sculpture, drawing, collage, fabric and theatre design, mosaics and painting express the dynamism and adventurism of the era. Margo and Carl made mosaics from ceramic tiles; Margo produced plexiglass sculpture and Carl exhibited sculpture on several occasions; both Frank and Carl used collage as a compositional tool and as art works. Frank and Jocelyn designed sets for theatre; Margel and Gerald, commissioned to produce significant public works, worked in wood, stone and metal. Frank’s Luminal Kinetics, Margel and Gerald’s water sculptures and Margel’s rotating works (‘Revolving Ball’ 1954) are key examples of time-based or kinetic art in Australia. Frank exhibited his lithographs at Carl’s Notanda Gallery, paintings by both Carl and Margo were made into tapestries and Carl, Frank and Margo were among the many artists commissioned by Claude Alcorso to create ‘Modernage’ fabric designs in the late 1940s. Their work toured internationally and they were some of the most talked-about artists of their day.
An exhibition of selected work of these 6 artists is a natural progression from the AGNSW ‘Sydney Moderns’ exhibition. Seeing the work in relation to the friendship and discussions between the six artists explores new ideas, influences and materials during the war and post-war years. Their work exemplifies the expanded field of production. By the late 60s, it takes place within the context of conceptual art.
Jocelyn Plate is not known as an artist; Carl Plate is not generally known to have exhibited sculpture, the work of Gerald Lewers is rarely exhibited and the opportunity to see Margel Hinder's revolving sculptures, held in public galleries, even rarer. There is on-going interest in cross-media artists and those who defy tradition and this exhibition draws on rarely seen work in public and private collections.
The Exhibition: ‘Sydney 6’ displays about 70 works from across all media forms, exhibited in settings to allow their diversity to be viewed alongside each other – sculpture, painting, hangings, collage – and includes images the artists made of each other: Frank’s drawings of Margel, Jerry, Carl and Margo; Margel’s ‘Jerry’ sculpture and Carl’s collage of Jocelyn. The exhibition draws on Newcastle’s outstanding collection of mid-Twentieth century art, along with work from the Art Gallery of NSW, the National Gallery of Australia and Bathurst and Penrith Regional Galleries. 'Sydney 6' pays tribute to Margel Hinder’s monumental fountain in Newcastle's central park, near the Art Gallery; a controversial ‘Opera House’ of its day, fifty years later, the fountain is the most popular and striking art work in the city. A publication, produced by the Newcastle Art Gallery, documents the artists’ experimentation with diverse media, their friendships and influences and the significance of their work as dual artist couples.
Newcastle Art Gallery 9 May 2015 – 2 August 2015
Carl Plate 'Below' 1972-3
Newcastle Art Gallery May-August 2015