Alchemy by Carol Perkins is the latest exhibition presented by Willunga Gallery, now showing at Wirra Wirra Wines.

Review of Alchemy

Wine connoisseurs will say that a Riesling tastes like fresh apples and a Pinot Noir smells like plums and worn leather. But what shape is a Wirra Wirra Church Block red? What pattern does the aroma of a Chardonnay suggest?

South Australian artist Carol Perkins takes your favourite wine varieties from palate to palette, in a series of artwork that explores our sensory interaction with the science of wine.

Her latest exhibition, Alchemy, launched at Wirra Wines on Sunday 29 March, explores alchemical processes and shape symbolism to visually represent different wine varieties.

Perkins says, ‘An integral part of alchemical work relied on cryptic symbolism and mysticism. Alchemists believed in four elements. Alchemy examines and interprets four elements that make up wine – acidity, tannins, alcohol and fruits, and the balance of these elements.’

Breaking down different wine varieties, Perkins maps her findings in a geometric way to create patterns and complexities.

Perkins was trained in design and printing in the UK. Forever fascinated by the artistry and alchemy of wine, she almost abandoned her studies to follow her interests in the wine industry. Instead, after qualifying and working as a designer for many years, she set up her own silkscreen printing studio. In 2010 she moved to South Australia, where she works as a graphic designer.

Her pieces for Alchemy incorporate bright, grape-inspired tones of purple, crimson and magenta; yellow and lime. Her graphics are bold and clean, with sharply defined patterns. Crisp white lines intersecting the works are reminiscent of the delicately interlacing lines of a natural topographical map, and hexagonal shapes suggest a textbook diagram of chemical structures.

The artist says she has been influenced by the teachings of Professor Charles Spence, head of the Crossmodal Research Laboratory at Oxford University, who has famously collaborated with Heston Blumenthal. ‘Spence is interested in shape symbolism in terms of sensory perceptions,’ says Perkins. ‘I’ve used the premise of shape symbolism for my work in Alchemy. Alcohol and fruit and wine I’ve interpreted with circles and rounded shapes. The triangular shapes are about acidity and tannins,’ she says. ‘My other pieces go further into exploring those four elements, acidity, tannins, alcohol and fruits. I also explore topology and terroir, with mapped-out lines representing the contour lines around McLaren Vale and Blewitt Springs.’

McLaren Vale, located about 35km south of Adelaide, is internationally renowned for the wine it produces. The picturesque grounds at Wirra Wirra provide a charming backdrop for this exhibition in celebration of wine.

Alchemy is presented by Willunga Gallery, a boutique gallery and gift store just a few minutes by car from McLaren Vale, on historic Willunga’s bustling High Street. Willunga Gallery is owned by local artist and curator Irene Dougan.

Alchemy is the third in the series of exhibitions at presented by Willunga Gallery at Wirra Wirra for 2015. Alchemy is showing until 26 April.