Melancholy In Art / by Geoff Harrison

A 1993 exhibition of Caroline William's work at Meridian Gallery in Fitzroy had an enormous impact on my art, eventually.  I will always be indebted to a friend at art school who recommended this exhibition to me as she obviously saw something in my work at that early stage.  Walking around the large space and with the works mounted high on the walls, it began to dawn on me that there was something happening - beyond the obvious sense of alienation the works created.  I was alone in the gallery at the time and according to one of the staff, three psychiatrists had seen the exhibition the day before and they thought they detected grieving, which apparently was the case.  From my point of view, it was irrelevant what the nature of the psychology was, what was important was the fact that they detected something.  This exhibition taught me how a painting/drawing show could succeed as an installation in that it wasn't the individual works that were significant, but how they related to one another to create an atmosphere you could cut with a knife.  It's something I'll never forget.