From Andrew Frost…
Rochelle Haley’s Dead Precious is an exhibition of still life watercolours. Indeed, they’re so still that the subjects are inert and decidedly dead. Across a suite of modestly sized works Haley imagines an unlikely meeting of gemstones – diamonds, rubies and pearls – and the skeletons of animals – birds mostly, but the odd turtle and snake also make an appearance. The images suggest close study and recall not the daubing of hobbyist painters, but the exact illustrations tucked away in long-forgotten encyclopedias and annuals published for curious boys and girls.
Haley’s last show at here at MOP [the gallery now subdivided into two galleries, the commercial Pompom and the ARI-style of MOP] was a collaboration with Monika Behrens, Bedknobs & Broomsticks, a disturbing and often hilarious fantasy of fauna getting mixed up with sex toys. The vibe of Dead Precious is more sedate but the works have their own distinct if ambiguous magic: in Peridot  two emeralds are encircled by the skeleton of a snake, Hingeback  suggests an alternative use for turtle shells, while Bird on A Rock  confuses scale and values with a skeleton atop a massive gemstone. What does it all mean? The ambiguity is intriguing as the images draw you in, their pretty surfaces a memorial for light itself.
Until September 22
Galerie Pompom, Chippendale
Pic: Rochelle Haley, Bird on a Rock, 2012. Watercolour on paper, 34x27cm. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Pompom, Sydney.
The Art Life’s ‘Exhibitions’ section previews new and upcoming shows of note. Like to be included? Send info + pics to: the art life at hot mail dot com. Include “Exhibitions” in the subject line.