Peace Altitude - Nabilah Nordin, Salote Tawale, Amanda Williams, 2019 | at The Commercial, Sydney


It is with great pleasure that The Commercial presents Peace Altitude, an exhibition of new work by invited artists: Nabilah Nordin, Salote Tawale and Amanda Williams.
Within an imposing sculptural structure offering several levels of support, Nabilah Nordin’s painted concrete sculptures conceal beneath their glossy, mottled, polychrome surfaces composite steel armatures made from found industrial equipment. Each anatomy is the outcome of two utensils of unrelated function being welded together, the identity of each hinted at but not given by its title: Car Whisk, Potato Repair, Gravel Tea. The surprising compound forms of these abstract statuettes suggest unknown fleshy organisms that almost but don’t quite qualify for life. Assured nonetheless of the necessity of their existence.

Salote Tawale’s series of large ‘masi’ paintings approximate traditional Fijian bark cloths. Readily available materials - calico, acrylic paint, nylon rope, etc, - are simple urban substitutes for the island ones they stand in for. Tawale uses shape, texture and colour to approximate and signify salient cultural form, to give substance to the complexification of cultural knowledge and identity that results from migration and separation from custom. Prominent black graphic motifs (circles, triangles), the building blocks of decoration, the likes of which might adorn such ceremonial textiles, occupy the centre of each majestic cloth. Tawale has expressed unease with the creation of patterns out of concern for getting it (culturally) wrong. Instead, she reduces pattern to elemental individual forms, abstract emblems that represent the (non-conforming) individual or couple. Her striking black, white and magenta palette traces with extreme economy a Pacific island history along matrilineal lines (garlands of shells/tender memories) locating herself at its fluorescent core.

In an age anaesthetised by smartphone photography, Amanda Williams works within the material, chemical and physical constraints of large format silver gelatin photographic printing, fibre based papers and analogue, black and white, medium format film. Being material as opposed to digital, these things have a shelf life after which time their behaviour ceases to be predictable. The analogy of an afterlife, rather than a death, with the suggestion of spirit that this implies. Williams manipulates material phenomena to subtle superphenomenal ends, combining these practical negotiations and the physical energetics of this type of printing at this mural scale to work within the traditional genre of Romantic landscape photography. Anselm Adams a looming precipice in this terrain. The two large prints by Williams in Peace Altitude are the outcome of one of her recent visits to Australian alpine regions, lands protected by National Park status. At different times of day, exposures on both expired and unexpired film, Williams documents 'untouched' vistas with the tactility of her light sensitive materials, “inundating” them. The effect of her methods is like that of an extremely detailed drawing in something as material and as landscape originating as charcoal. In the making of the documentation and in titling these works, questions of the appropriateness of the term ‘wilderness’ arise and to whose experience and control of the landscape that applies/implies. Williams adds to her titles acknowledgement of traditional owners, in this case the Wolgalu and Ngarigo peoples of the Australian alpine region.*


*The artist and gallery would like to acknowledge the Wolgalu and Ngarigo people who are the traditional custodians of the lands on which these photographs were taken. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present. 



Nabilah Nordin (b. 1991, Singapore, lives Melbourne/Sydney) has exhibited widely in Melbourne, Sydney and, notably, Singapore where she has developed a substantial exhibition profile over the past four years. Recent exhibitions in Singapore include group shows at the Australian High Commission, the Institute of Contemporary Arts as well a major solo presentation of large outdoor sculpture, Glup Plunc Glerp Thint Than Nurp Earm Tinn Gamp Shtert, as part of the 2018 DISINI festival at Gillman Barracks. Solo and group exhibitions (including several collaborative projects with Nick Modrzewski) in Australia include Bundoora Homestead Art Centre, Victoria; Cement Fondu, Sydney; Chapter House Lane, Melbourne; Firstdraft, Sydney; Fort Delta, Melbourne; Margaret Lawrence Gallery, Melbourne. Nordin has been invited to exhibit in a major international biennial later this year. She received a Bachelor of Fine Art at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne (2013) and a Master of Contemporary Art at Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne (2015).

Salote Tawale (b. 1976 Suva, Fiji, lives Sydney) was the winner of the inaugural NSW Visual Artists Fellowship (mid-career/established) in 2017. In 2018, she presented a performance at Studio Voltaire, London, as part of McDermott & McGough’s The Oscar Wylde Temple public program. Concurrent with Peace Altitude at The Commercial, Tawale’s work will be included in a group exhibition at Raven Row, London. Group exhibitions include In Search of Miss Ruthless, ParaSite Gallery, Hong Kong (2017); Unfinished Business: Perspectives on art and feminism, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne (2017-2018); She received a Bachelor of Media Arts from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne (2004) and a Master of Fine Art from Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney (2016). Tawale’s work is in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art, the University of Western Australia, Perth. Her international record of exhibition has been underpinned by a number of residencies including The Banff Centre, Alberta, Canada, the Wysing Art Centre, Cambridge as well as residencies in London and Paris. Tawale is currently being supported by a 12-month studio at Artspace, Sydney.

Amanda Williams (b. 1975, Sydney, lives Sydney) was the winner of the 2018 MAMA Art Foundation National Photography Prize, the oldest photographic prize in Australia, judged by Isobel Parker Philip, at Murray Art Museum Albury. She was awarded a Master of Fine Art at Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney (2015), a Bachelor of Fine Arts (1st class hons and University Medal) by the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales (2006) and a Bachelor of Arts (Art History and Theory) by the University of Sydney (1998). Her work has been exhibited widely in Australia over fifteen years including the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne; Hazelhurst Regional Gallery, Sydney; Monash Gallery of Art, Melbourne, and UNSW Galleries, Sydney. Her major photographic installation, Cooleman Plain Karst, Kosciuszko National Park, (know who you are at every age) (2017-2018) is in the collection of Murray Art Museum Albury.