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17 October, 2023 - 28 October, 2023

17 – 28 October 2023

Tuesday – Friday: 12pm – 7pm
Saturdays: 12pm – 4pm
admission: Free

..exploring through oil paint, the artist creates works that evoke the emotion, movement and phases…

Dena Ashbolt’s new exhibition Lebenslust (Joy of Life) is inspired by Gudrun Ilana Guriel’s life manuscript of the same title, Lebenslust, written to review the history of her family and as a gift for her grandchildren.  Ashbolt, a visual artist and experienced film maker, has been working with Ilana on the project since August 2020.  Ashbolt has integrated the complex narratives of Ilana’s life into her visual art practice, exploring through oil paint, to create works that evoke the emotion, movement and phases of Ilana’s life.

Ilana undertook the journey of her memoir and its illustration with the intention of not only setting a stage of life in post war Germany, but also of revealing the intergenerational secrets she has recognised in her family.  Her manuscript has been in development for the past decade, and the working relationship with Ashbolt started as a result of their mutual enthusiasm for images of movement.  When they commenced their collaboration in they had little idea of how it would grow and go on to take a life of its own.

Ashbolt’s work is inspired by time passing as revealed by movement. On viewing her work, Ilana appreciated Ashbolt’s intuition for representing movement and it was through the course of the collaboration the pair developed a way of working.  Starting with photographs and memories narrated by Ilana, Ashbolt studied body language, positioning of family members and at times considering who might have taken the photo and why.  These discussions offered clues for how each work would evolve – the motivation for each painting developed over time and conversation.

Ilana: “Through this project I learnt to look, through Dena I learnt to see, to recognise things in my life I hadn’t noticed before.  The image of Mama and myself at the table – I had always thought I had a bad relationship with my mother – it was only when we painted this image that I could sense the joy we felt for each other. “

Dena: “Our relationship with time, and time passing, is something that underlies pretty much all of my work, in very diverse contexts, and this project has allowed me to explore that.  It has been such a magical commission – freedom to interpret stories, photographs, moments in time.  To evolve an impression of a person, place and family.”

Dr Dena Ashbolt is a perceptual artist whose cinematic drawing technique consistently engages with time, its flow and passing. Her interdisciplinary practice includes drawing and painting, printmaking, filmmaking, photo-media, and collaborative performance projects. Born in London, she graduated in Film and Photography at the University of Westminster. In 2015 she obtained a doctorate in Fine Art from Monash University.

Artist and Author Q & A 

Wednesday 25 October, 5-6pm, in the small gallery

A Q & A with exhibting artist Dena Ashbolt, author Gundrun Ilana Guriel and book designer Lena Laum. They will discuss the gestation of their ‘Lebenslust’ project, the methodology and the collaboration between the three of them.

For those wishing to purchase a copy of the book, both the author and artist will be available for signings.

This event is free and no pre-booking is required.


17 October, 2023
28 October, 2023
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fortyfivedownstairs gallery
45 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, Victoria 3000 Australia
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03 9662 9966
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03 9662 9966


Dena Ashbolt and Gudrun Ilana Guriel
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