Paris Bled into the Indian Ocean

A Fremantle Festival exhibition ‘Paris bled into the Indian Ocean’ is taking place at Merenda Contemporary takes up
Kathleen O’Connor’s story from her return home to Western Australia from France in 1955. After immersing herself in the vigorous and exciting art scene in Paris between the wars - and exhibiting with notable artists such as Dufy, De Chirico and Bonnard
- she throws the majority of her treasured work into the Indian Ocean before disembarking at Fremantle.

 In working to comprehend why one of Australia’s most accomplished painters would feel compelled to do this Darvall established collaborations with Mike and Joy Lefroy (O’Connor family members) and Western Australian writer, Amanda Curtin.

This exhibition is an opportunity to represent and celebrate the determination of creative women in the early to mid 1900s who forged on with brilliant careers that were little celebrated in their own lifetime.


(Credit: ‘Paris bled into the Indian Ocean’ Title courtesy of arts writer, Amanda Curtin.) 


Opening Friday 26 September -2 October 2014

The moon hangs low,

The sun begins to peek over the horizon splashing pink on the brooding clouds gathered over Garden Island.

Air thick with whispers hot

Moonlight picks his familiar path down to South Fremantle beach.

The powerful steed stretches out and opens to a gallop

Monuments of a life’s work fade behind the rider

Time stands still as horse and master meet the waters end.
-  Jo Darvall 2014

 What began as a deep admiration for painter Kathleen O’Connor, quickly turned to obsession for Jo Darvall as she found herself absorbed in O’Connor’s tragic family history. The first chapter of a planned three part series, Walking the Pipeline to the Waters End, explores the last days of O’Connor’s father, Western Australian Engineer in Chief, Charles Yelverton O’Connor’s, before his untimely suicide.

 Following in the footsteps of iconic Australian painters such as Sidney Nolan, who probed the legend of Ned Kelly, Darvall unearths the great Western Australian story of a man who was ultimately driven to his demise by an ever increasing and complex workload, laced with unreasonable public expectation and media distortion.

 “It is only through myth that the truth about any country can be found”

 Sidney Nolan, 1968.

Embarking on her most ambitious exhibition to date, Darvall has visited historical sites, conducted her own research, and consulted with local Fremantle historians to reference her creation of large scale, traditional oil paintings, which delve into the myths that surround C.Y. O’Connor and question how we make sense of his legacy.

Of her practice arts writer Stephanie Holt says,
Jo Darvall is an artist to her core, and her plain speaking ways offer their own kind of poetry. Hers is a sensibility alert to connections, beauty, revelation. That can recognise something of the grandeur of the iconic American west in the Pilbara, but without missing its histories of struggle and destruction.”

Waters End 2014 Jo Darvall oil on canvas

Artist Mike Nicholls joins Jo Darvall

Ashley Crawford writes "From time immemorial man has carved" (2007 A work in progress- Mike Nicholls)

Over one hundred years ago CY O'Connor carved monumental public works that we all use and access every day: Mike Nicholls and Jo Darvall pay tribute to his life and myth in a new art work of paintings and wood carvings.


Sensorium reviewed! Singapore curator writes...

Review :  Sensorium – The Unfurling By  Jo Darvall

Sculpture Square , Singapore

8 – 11 July , 2014  


Summoning all the five senses with merely works on paper may sound somewhat ambitious but artist Jo Darvall indeed accomplish this through her recent exhibition at Singapore’s Sculpture Square.

The viewer is first greeted by an invitation to partake some rice paper wrapped Chinese White Rabbit candy  - a hint as to the paper medium being selected for many of the works.  As one savors the candy, soundscapes by composer Jonathan Gaboury emanate and a striking sculpture beckons from afar, bathed in ever changing intense tones while its many folds twirl and unfurl with every movement of breeze – a mesmerizing vision. 


With a companion series of water color works enveloping the viewer  to complete the experience,  Darvall  stages  an exhilarating and  truly multisensory  installation.  With a mere few bold , measured strokes  her paper works  capture the atmosphere and expanse of the desert scapes of her home land . Yet other more abstract works erupt with vitality and energy. The works bear a strong testament to Darvall’s deft handling of contemporary ink painting with hints of distinctive traditional Chinese ink gestures.  There are works created with a singular enormous brush, imbued with a unique luminosity and texture that summons up a mood of jubilation and celebration of nature’s bounty .  Her palette for the encaustic works is arm and sophisticated - lyrically capturing vast lands with evocative brush marks and delicate gestures to form a charming cocktail of crimsons, brilliant yellows and earthy ochers. 

Supremely confident in her handling of each medium Darvall processes the possibilities and potential of rice paper , wax , paint  to bring forth effects  which are curiously seductive and translucent . Indeed Darvall’s Sensorium has teased and unfurled all senses. We eagerly await the unveiling of the next encounter.   


By Jean Tsai, Independent Curator , Singapore

July  2014


Gemstones and Millstreams Exhibition Opening 2013

Morrison and Darvall collaboration (Pictured Jo Darvall and Kylie Roadford, photo Bo Wong)

Morrison and Darvall collaboration Beautiful presentation, silk scarves  celebrating the exhibition and our friendship only  50 available contact Morrison clothing  to purchase (limited edition of 50 only a few left)