Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Grandmere Debout Chinese Rouge
by Maxime Banks
Had the great pleasure of meeting artist and poet Maxime Banks in January. Maxime works with art and text so I was determined to catch her exhibition Odyssey in the unique Fractures Gallery at Federation Square. I had a lot of trouble finding the gallery space and did quite a few laps of Fed Square before it finally occurred to me, that the interesting looking woman chatting to a bookstall holder could be Maxime herself. Indeed it was and right behind us – the Fractured Gallery - part of the Atrium’s glass wall structure!

Maxime Banks is a Melbourne based award winning African-American artist and poet who has also lived in Paris. Odyssey is a series of works which feature her poetry hand written on swathes or scrolls of fabric hung from high ceiling points, text on a white sail which she found in the street (talk about luck!), and poetry and prose (in English and French) combined with imagery in small collages, large canvases and printed paper. Her work merges imagery, text and story and explores self-identity, culture and spirituality. Her totem, the rhinoceros, is a recurring motif.

I was constantly drawn back to Grandmere Debout Chinese Rouge a painting of Maxime’s grandmother and the story of this important family figure. I found it a very moving work as well as warm and beautiful. I’m interested in line and love the treatment of it in the mixed media work Femme Esprit – the outlining and the oil pastel overlays give this strong female figure, fleet movement.

Femme Esprit by Maxime Banks
Many thanks to Maxime for providing photographs of these works. You can see something of the exhibition and hear Maxime giving a spontaneous reading of her poem about a girl dreaming and the memory of brothers and sisters …the girl reminds the indigo beetle of laughter... at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brfnmUYdrOA 

Lizz Murphy & Maxime Banks at Federation Square:
Here we are together, happy with our chance meeting. 
– on one of Melbourne’s hottest January days EVER.

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