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The Red Thread

Someone coined the phrase Psychological Folk Realism upon first seeing Marion Isham‘s oil painting series. There is more than a hint of her book illustration background and her love for the folk tale tradition. But there are things included that would be quite confronting for children.  There are menacing wolves and people of evil and of tragic intent.

Marion elaborates her image excursions  with a recurring visual vocabulary including various folded paper objects, star-studded skies, lampposts & lights, an open book, a winding road, a ball of red twine, menorahs, olive trees, toads, a tame kangaroo, doves, and one plucky young woman in a blue dress.  Giants and monsters are offset by an old woman “Odin figure” to comfort and to guide.


There is no overall narrative linking the works but they do suggest a journey.  The dangers, challenges, and sources of threat are like incidents from Bunyan’s classic, Pilgrim’s Progress. The transcendent world intersects, and both comforts and confronts. Amid adversity there is hope and a destination.

Marion’s advocacies appear in a few of the paintings with the abiding strengths of allusion and metaphor. What she loves and values and what she abhors are embedded in a richly toned rubric.

Curated by Steve Isham

Wednesday 22 – Monday 27 July 2015
10:00am – 4:00pm daily

Tuesday 21 July 2015, 5:00pm – 6:00pm

Image Credits: Marion Isham, The Giant and In the House (detail)

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