Danielle McManus ‘Brave 11’ 100cm X 100cm Acrylic on canvas $3,200

This is a brightly coloured, bold and exciting exhibition by two artists familiar to Traffic Jam Galleries visitors, Megan Barrass and Danielle McManus. The current exhibition is called ALL AUSTRALIAN.

Barrass’ distinctive floral works are vivid and colourful, while she also captures everyday Sydney scenes pre Covid.

Barrass grew up on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and now lives in Port Stephens. Her works capture Sydney life but also explore the bushland around her home on the north coast.

‘Morning Collection 1’ is a riotously explosively colourful depiction of huge bouquets of native flowers Barrass collected on her morning walk, presented in a square vase.‘Circular Quay Ferries from the Cahill Expressway’ is a vibrant diptych, with free, strong expressive brushstrokes in a tight composition with the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House in the background and seagulls.

‘Morning Collection 2’ is another dynamic floral still life with flowers cascading everywhere this time settled in a clear vase.

‘Window Seal Flowers with Vista to Lavender Bay’ – probably painted at sunset – is a crowded , busy composition of buildings, boats and the Harbour Bridge but is dominated by the ebullient flowers tumbling diagonally front and centre . The dominant colour is blue but there is a fiery red sky behind the Harbour Bridge.

‘Little Morning Collection 1,11,111’ is a delightful swooping detailed swirling trio of paintings of natïve flowers, each in a different vase, and dominated by a different colour palette

‘In Sydney Ferry’ (we can see it is the Sirius) the bulk of the ferry (with passengers both outside and in) as it ploughs through the water , heading to the right(starboard).

‘Waratah and Protea’ has an energetic circular and triangular composition of finely intricate expressive brushtrokes. Red and pink are the major colours in this work yet there is also use of yellow and white.

‘In Morning Collection 11’ there is a pink vase on a blue table , holding lots of flannel flowers and a protea.
‘Botanical Gardens’ has a strong vertical composition, pushing up towards the top of the work. There are masses and masses of flowers and we also see the Opera House and Harbour Bridge in the background along with ferries and the North Shore skyline as well as the red ‘ Choo Choo Express ’ that runs around the Gardens.

‘Sydney Harbour on a Typical Day’ is a four-part polyptych, in some ways rather cartoonish. We see a lot of the touristy things and nautical life at Circular Quay on a typical summer day before Covid – the water taxis , ferries, tour boats , the Thunder jet boats etc all against a backdrop of the city skyline including the Harbour Bridge and Opera House . There is an ominous yellow sky, though, with clouds.

Danielle McManus is inspired by all facets of natural Australia and attempts to build narratives in her luxuriant renderings , meticulous depiction of flora and fauna and intriguing subjects set against an Arcadian backdrop. McManus’ works are, at times, dreamlike and mysterious .

‘Brave 11’ is a portrait of a young woman turning into a fox , with wonderful ears and hair that is like a tail and a huge ‘ vest’ of flannel flowers against a rocky wall , as well as the strong verticality of spinifex grass and flowering grass trees , with a spectacular owl ( symbol of Athena the goddess of wisdom and an allegory of growing up and life’s adventures?).

‘Moon Watcher’ is an exquisitely detailed, feathered, fluffy portrait of an owl against a delicate starry night.

‘Olive’ is a striking portrait of a young girl with specially rolled hair and a sprig of flower in her hair with a bird gracefully sipping.

‘Birds of a Feather’ is a striking close up portrait of a young girl with a blue feathery headdress enigmatically looking at a kingfisher on her shoulder. Is she the bird transformed (or the other way around ?!

‘Happy Place ‘is a dynamic composition of a young girl in a jacaranda petal cap ( with bees circling ) wearing a red spotted dress in a paper origami boat in a carp pond with two kingfishers also included. The work has sharp lines and a strong pointed triangular composition.

‘Dreamer’ is a delightful portrait of a dark haired freckled young woman with her eyes closed dreaming of clouds

‘The Joker’ is a vibrant , incredibly detailed , fluffy portrait of a very confident, brightly coloured parrot.

Four works are included that I have previously reviewed : ‘Halo’ , ‘In All Her Finery’ , ‘Looking for Her Prince ‘and ‘Uncertain’. In them one can see evidence of McManus’ usual earlier style with the large eyes and greatly detailed depictions of flora and fauna.

An eye catching exhibition .

MEGAN BARRASS AND DANIELLE MCMANUS: ALL AUSTRALIAN runs November 13 – 4 December 2020 at Traffic Jam Galleries.

Featured image: The work of Megan Barass and Danielle McManus currently feature at the Traffic Jam Galleries