Heather Straka has invited Emily Hartley-Skudder to join forces, taking the mysterious burning down of an Edwardian hotel — the Café Continental on Sumner beach (1906-09) — as a hazy starting point. Coincidentally, both artists had been re-watching Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, already thinking about how they could bring the spirit of the ‘Overlook Hotel’ into their work.
Wendy’s Cigarette indulges the artists’ shared love of film, artifice and the haunted aura of old buildings. Through regular conversations, Straka and Hartley-Skudder have slowly cross-pollinated ideas. The resulting exhibition flattens eras and merges narratives; intertwining the artists' distinct sensibilities. The unearthly characters who occupy Straka’s oil paintings sit within Hartley-Skudder’s installations, trapped in an eerie time-warp. This duet sees the gritty Gen Xer dirty up the pastel-clad Millenial’s pristine aesthetic — singeing edges with cigarette burns and leaving hair in the plug holes.
Heather Straka & Emily Hartley-Skudder, Wendy’s Cigarette
Jonathan Smart Gallery, 52 Buchan St, Sydenham, 9 May – 10 June
Heather Straka & Emily Hartley-Skudder, Wendy’s Cigarette, 2023, mixed media and oil on board