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Funny, crafty women make a serious point about our expectations of art

The Guardian
1 October 2013
Andrew Frost

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Doig's show coincides with Sugar Sugar, a group show at Brenda May Gallery also in Sydney. Curated by Megan Fizell, this is a 10-woman show where all the works are created using sugar, many taking the shape of other "non-serious" art forms - cakes, jewellery, flower-arranging and cameos. The works themselves are mostly conceptual pieces that play on the idea of transience, value and permanence, given their limited shelf life.

Among the pieces are Matina Bourmas' performance Gifting where the artist, using cake icing, applies delicate doily-like patterns to the gallery walls (daily 2.30-3pm) and Stephanie Jones' series The Traceries, that uses royal icing in petri dishes to create minutely patterned cameos. Janet Tavener has made fake cakes using sugar paste and food colouring and Claire McArdle presents jewellery made from gold and chocolate. Judith Klausner's Oreo Cameo series presents classic cameos carved from the chocolate cookies, the classicism of their style ironically undercut by their ephemeral nature. The work in both Sugar Sugar and in Doig's exhibition knowingly play with values and expectations, putting these traditionally female craft skills into the context of a contemporary art exhibition. It may not do much to alter the deeply ingrained prejudices of apparently open-minded viewers of art but it's nice to be reminded of how arbitrary our value system is.