Exhibitions review: Innovation and the Mandurah 9×5 Art Prize, WA

Deborah Zibah’s solo exhibition of large scale abstract art is perfectly balanced by the community-compiled collection of 9x5 boards.

The Mandurah 9×5 Art Prize opened alongside Innovation, a solo exhibition by Deborah Zibah at the Alcoa Mandurah Art Gallery, last Friday evening. The foyer was packed, despite inclement weather, highlighting the strength of community support for the artists. 

Deborah Zibah is well known for painting murals, portraits, and plein air pieces, in addition to creating abstract art. She has been exhibiting regularly for almost two decades. Zibah’s current solo exhibition, Innovation, consists of 22 (mostly) large-scale abstract paintings, in which raw creativity permeates bold acrylic scrapings of colour across Marri panels.

Zibah’s aptly named collection of recent work is innovative in its combination of techniques, materials, textures and surfaces. Loud colours move like waves of inspiration, revelling in the exuberance of a fresh start, with playful splashes of crayon highlighting hope and joy in works like Bright Side of the Moon, and Fairground. Beautifully displayed within the Alcoa Mandurah Art Gallery, Zibah’s paintings dwarf the 9×5 boards in the nearby foyer. 

The Mandurah 9×5 Art Prize 2021 looks at Mandurah through a kaleidoscope of 170 artworks, united by the theme of ‘Mandurah life’. Crabs and dolphins feature prominently, as do canals, jetties, beaches, and birdlife. As is to be expected, the majority of paintings are oil or acrylic, but it is exciting to see an array of media-diversity.

Gayle Bukey’s textile work stands out for this reason, as do Jo Wood’s and Maggie Clark’s respective marine-themed monoprints. Distinguished plein air painters, including internationally-award-winning Leon Holmes, Barb Thoms, and Corrine Rapley, channel vivid realism into this eclectic exhibition, whereas contemporary artists, like Lisa Payton and Hilly Coufreur, have more abstract takes on the theme of Mandurah life. Seeing the collective consciousness of a city laid bare is a powerful frame through which to view a living landscape. 

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Exhibition coordinator, James Walker, officially opened both exhibitions before passing the mic to Deborah Zibah, who urged attendees not to give up on their dreams. The esteemed Gillian Peebles, Sue-Grey Smith, and Deputy Mayor Councillor Caroline Knight judged the Mandurah 9×5 Art Prize for 2021. Winners included Narelle Higson, Tanya Weeks and Hilly Coufreur. The Youth Awards, presented by Mandurah Plein Air Artists, went to Bianca Knuckey, Joseph Dale, and Jackie Salander-Steele. Mandurah’s Mayor Rhys Williams thanked the judges, and presented them with tokens of appreciation for their contribution to the arts community. 

Innovation by Deb Zibah and The Mandurah 9×5 Art Prize
Alcoa Mandurah Art Gallery
Mandurah Performing Arts Centre, WA.

Innovation will be open until 30 September 2021 and The Mandurah 9×5 Art Prize will be on show until 17 September 2021.
Free entry.

Nanci Nott is an Australian writer who believes in dismantling traditional pedagogy in parenting and education, for the purpose of raising freethinking, compassionate, world-changers.