New moving image exhibition now showing at Shepparton Art Museum

A moving image exhibition inspired by the landscape and agriculture of Dookie is now open at Shepparton Art Museum.

Image: Jen Valender, <em>Artist as Animal</em> (still, 2022). Image courtesy of the artist.
Image: Jen Valender, Artist as Animal (still, 2022). Image courtesy of the artist.

A new moving image exhibition entitled Field, featuring the work of multidisciplinary artist Jen Valender, is now showing at Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) in the Hugh D.T Williamson Community Gallery until 5 May 2024 as the latest instalment of the museum’s annual SAM Selects program.

Created during Valender’s artistic residency at The University of Melbourne’s Dookie campus for the Centre of Visual Arts’ Art + Ecology program, Field features a multi-channel video installation made up of four moving image works: Re-search, Bovine Harp, Artist as Animal, and Sediment. Set amongst the fluorescent canola fields and dairy farms of Dookie, each film combines sculpture, performance, and video to explore various aspects of agricultural life and the relationship between art and the natural world.

Across the four films, the viewer is taken on an unexpected journey; in Artist as Animal, we see Valender force her way through a hardy canola crop; in Bovine Harp, she teaches a calf to use its tongue to strum the strings of a harp. The films reframe the recognisable landscape of Dookie, allowing the familiar views for locals to be seen through an outsider’s perspective.

Caroline Esbenshade, SAM Curator – Community says of Valender’s work:

“Through her durational performances, Jen Valender highlights the labour and resilience required by the farming industry to succeed. The work is a celebration of the region, an invitation to see the fields and paddocks around us as cinematic landscapes and a nod to the ties between the metropolitan and suburban to the rural.”

Valender says of her exhibition:

“My work is often shaped by the location in which I am based, and I allow the research and conversations that I have with local residents to inform and drive the artworks that I make.

“While making the works for Field, I was instantly drawn to the rhythm and mechanics of the college’s robotic milking shed and laboratories. The seemingly endless fields of golden canola, with brilliant blue cloudless skies overhead, also made the surrounding landscapes ready-made artworks in themselves.

“I hope that the whimsy-meets-endurance nature of the exhibition, combined with the rolling hills of Dookie, brings people some delight in seeing the familiar made anew.”

Jen Valender: Field is now showing at SAM until 5 May 2024, with free entry.

About the artist:

Jen Valender is a multidisciplinary artist who creates performative encounters on and with the landscape that raises questions about the relationship between art and the natural world.

Through moving image, she explores the ways in which art may be used as a navigational tool to investigate human and nonhuman connections. Jen has exhibited widely in galleries and museums in Australia, France, Germany, South Africa, and Portugal and holds a Master of Fine Arts (Research) from the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne.

About SAM:

Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) is located on Yorta Yorta Country, Shepparton, Victoria.

As a leading Australian regional art museum, SAM showcases its exhibitions and collections in new and exciting ways to create a welcoming, inclusive, and engaging space for all visitors.

Recognised for its significant Australian ceramics collection and nationally significant collection of Indigenous art, SAM’s programming is designed to be locally relevant and engages with global contemporary ideas. Through its exhibitions, collection, programs and events, SAM creates a place where art helps us to better understand the ancient culture of this country and contemporary multicultural Australia.

/Public Release. View in full here.