The four exhibitions currently running at Firstdraft each a paint a kind of portrait: most of people, two of places. A main feature of Jacquelene Drinkall's Weather Underwater are its 'balaclava fascinators': stretched wire faces, with conical scalps towering to infinity. On the opposite wall, Seth Birchall's Man Crush is a series of faces. Each pair was painted in parallel — with every stroke of the first panel repeated on the second, making a mark-for-mark set of two. Paired, they look like stereoscopic photos, though minor details sit at odds from one image to the next. Arsenic tint colours offset Birchall's faces, giving them a television glow.
Stella Rosa McDonald's Second City is the highlight of the four. In a black room at the back of the gallery, six people are projected life-size on the wall opposite. They meet your eye as they stand and shuffle patiently in place. A pair of earphones dangle from the ceiling. Listening, your hear critical discussion of "What is a bogan?" by some casual voices. Glebe locals, young and old, are featured in the project. The questions that make up the piece's audio features some of their interrogation.
Behind Second City is a blue curtain, where a toothed tunnel which leads through to Claire Finneran and Hossein Ghaemi's This Way Up! The exhibition feels like an abandoned sea cave filled with religious ephemera. The little statues and symbols on the wall are evocative of religions and numinous moments, but none of them belong to a religion in particular. These little holy places revere kiwi fruit, pebbles, a spare cigarette or a shiny cereal packet plunked on a golden pillar. More than one devotion is worshipped here, and each tiny altar fights idly for attention, before you push your way back out through the curtain.
Image by Seth Birchill.