Artist goes out on a limb to take prize

She's the one: Visual arts co-ordinator David O'Halloran inspects Liz Caffin's award-winning drawing at Walker Street Gallery. Picture: Ted Kloszynski


A WOMAN depicted as standing out on a tree’s limb is one of the winning works at Dandenong’s Walker Street Gallery’s 15th She exhibition.

Artist Liz Caffin, who created the evocative award-winning charcoal work Canopy, insists there’s no political ideology behind the work.

She said it was tailored for the exhibition’s ‘she who can’ theme, but was more about her own ideals as a woman in communication with nature. “I’m just trying to give a feeling, not a political message,” Caffin said.

On close inspection, a network of women are sheltering in the tree’s shadowy canopy. It was one of two main prize winners; the other winner was Elizabeth Williams’ work Balance depicting a woman making a precarious walk, carrying a babe and bags on a high tightrope.

Caffin, of Castlemaine, says the all-female exhibition was important for female artists like herself.

“It’s unfortunate in Australia that men artists get more prominence, though it’s improving. Even for [late artist] Margaret Olley, recognition came late in the day.”

As for Caffin’s own career, she’s concentrated on printmaking and crayon works since the 1980s. Raising three children – who have now left home – was her main career obstacle.

On the other hand, 30 years of living in the popular artists’ colony of Castlemaine has been a perfect conduit.

The exhibition received 120 entries from Australia and overseas. Despite the prescribed theme, Caffin saw a “really diverse approach” among the ceramics, paintings, video arts and drawings on display.

For their winning entries, Caffin and Williams were awarded solo exhibitions at Burrinja Cultural Centre or Frankston Art Centre.

The exhibition is at the corner of Walker and Robinson streets, Dandenong until Saturday. It is open from 11am-5pm Monday-Friday and 11am-3pm on Saturdays. Entry is free.