Geoff Harrison - 'Refuge'

Wednesday 5 - Saturday 22 May 2021

The intention of this exhibition is to take the viewer on a journey around Melbourne’s Botanical Gardens at different times of day and in different weathers.

The artist has sought to share the recuperative and consoling powers that nature has to offer us. There have been many times where Geoff Harrison has visited these gardens for psychological recovery from the challenges of everyday life, such as losing one’s job, difficulties in relationships or even working one’s way through art school.

Art can help us appreciate the importance of modest moments in our lives, such as the play of shadows cast by a tree on a path.

Modern advertising often specialises in glamourising the unattainable; that is, places that are rare, remote, costly or famous. Yet here we have an exotic location right under our noses that we can visit at any time. And the sun need not be shining to appreciate the mysteries of these gardens. A visit on a quiet, drizzly day can be an oddly therapeutic experience as you get the feeling you have the whole gardens to yourself – tearooms and all. Thus, one can absorb the almost surreal beauty of the gardens, the thought that has gone into the landscaping and the far flung vistas.

We can become ungrateful for things that are free and we lose the value of ideas and feelings. An elderly couple watch a young couple striding confidently by on a cool, autumn day. A lone photographer sets up his tripod near the central lagoon.
In this series, Harrison has not looked to depicting precise species of plants: this is not meant to be an exact botanical record. It’s a mood, a feeling that he is looking to convey – an opportunity for quiet contemplation.