Trevor Tagliabue - 'Nocturne: A Natimuk Narrative'

Wednesday 29 May - Sunday 23 June 2019

Trevor Tagliabue’s Nocturne: a Natimuk Narrative is a very big collection of very small objects, a cornucopia of intimate handmade miniatures, insectes de la nuit, based on the artist’s nocturnal wanderings on his half-acre block of land in the Wimmera district of western Victoria.

A long-time resident of the small rural township of Natimuk (known as the Garden of the Wimmera) and its ready access to the unspoilt glory of the vast openness of its surrounds, Tagliabue has long been fascinated by the night time activity of nature.

Nocturnal species thrive and survive, facilitating endless explorations and surreptitious surveillance, providing inspiration for his art practice. Tagliabue consciously makes a few preliminary sketches of his subject(s), working from observation to finished piece in as short a time as possible – a metaphorical shorthand. This rapid-fire method does not allow for precise, photorealist portrayals (and thereby eliminating any overt references to wildlife art): as they are created from memories gleaned during his nightly jaunts, they have, instead, inbuilt inaccuracies of appearance, texture and scale. They rely on a stylised form of recognition, an intimation, a suggestion.

From these intimations come the miniature sculptures. Some twenty or so years ago, on his moving into his studio, Tagliabue planted trees and shrubbery in order to create a personal sense of place, a meditation on space, exile and touch. He has lovingly tended this self-created eco-friendly environment ever since, avoiding chemical and non-organic materials. And it is the harvest from the pruning and trimming of his trees and surrounds that provide the source for the materials used in the works featured in Nocturne: a Natimuk Narrative.

Trimming, sanding, shaping, forming, constructing, assembling, tacking and engaging are useful descriptors to describe what happens next as Tagliabue looks to the process of creating. The final colouring processes are eco-friendly, non-chemical and mimic nature’s natural patination (vinegar, iron filings, weathering all feature). Hand burnishing completes the surface manipulation.

Each piece is an attempt to make something unique and equally beautiful, with some pieces being made and remade a number of times to achieve the required result. Fragments are cut from those considered to be unresolved and reworked until the right visual effect is achieved. The individual pieces themselves are not an exact copy of any specific genus, celestial event or natural occurrence. They are a mirror of the broader global ecologies under pressure from destructive farming practices and industrial expansion. With this work he is trying to promote environmental issues the simplest of materials and processes.