Kirsten Duncombe

Donati: Revisited

Comet Donati was first observed by Italian astronomer Giovanni Donati in the June of 1858. American astronomer G.P. Bond photographed the comet on October 9 of that year, the night that Comet Donati was at its brightest and most impressive from our vantage point on Earth. This image represents humankind’s first successful photographic capture of a comet.

Art Exhibition previously on at Galerie pompom in New South Wales, Australia.
From Wednesday 04 April 2018 to Sunday 29 April 2018

Kirsten Duncombe, installation view image Kirsten Duncombe, installation view image Kirsten Duncombe, Overshine II, 2018, acrylic, gouache, cold wax medium on paper on board, hand painted oak frame, 27 x 28.5 cm image Kirsten Duncombe, Sidereal I, 2018, acrylic, aerosol, gouache, flashe, cold wax medium on paper on board, pacific jarrah frame, 28.5 x 51.5 cm image

Published by Galerie pompom on Saturday 07 April 2018.
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The image is beautiful, transcendent, eerie. The head of the comet (known as the coma) forms a kind of rainbow as it speeds through the darkness, its trailing vaporous tails – made up of gas and dust and lit by the sun – bend away on either side, bowed by the speed of its trajectory through space.

Due to its long, elliptical orbit, it is estimated that Donati’s Comet will not be seen passing by Earth again until the 4th millennium. More exactly, the comet will probably not return until the year 3858, as its period of revolution is approximately 2000 years.

Donati: Revisited represents Kirsten Duncombe’s response to G.P. Bond’s singular image of Comet Donati. Via a series of abstract pieces, she seeks to explore and enlarge upon the themes and symbols that can be extracted from this one extraordinary image.

The beauty of the original photographic capture is self-evident. The comet can be seen to form a ghostly archway, writ large in the night sky. The simple yet powerful geometry of the arch informs aspects of my work for this show. The archway is not merely powerful as a visual device; it contains within its form references to a portal, or gateway, with all the attendant symbolism of transition and mystery. 

Through mixed-media pieces Duncombe explores themes of darkness, energy, time, space, scale, impermanence, sunlight and stardust, to capture some of the material and symbolic majesty of Comet Donati, via the earthly medium of paint.