Tucked away in a corner of a Red Hill residential area is the Side Gallery, which had its opening exhibition of Bonnie Hislop’s Rainbows on Toast with Jam on May 11. There was a lack of the usual stuffiness usually present in art galleries. From afar it resembled a little party, with its’ lights and more close-knit atmosphere.

Hislop’s pieces are a breath of fresh, colourful air in the local art scene. Departing from the muted palettes and minimalistic trends amongst ceramics, Hislop’s pieces are bright and sugary sweet. But though her works are sugarcoated with pastels, the snark and wit of her messaging still manages to stand out. Her art takes inspiration from the ‘funk art’ ceramics of the 60s and 70s, a period where many artists intertwined art, humor, and feminism. Hislop’s pieces are a modern rendition, her pieces sometimes playing on modern-day concepts like online dating while still retaining her expressions of femininity and feminism.

Dessert-like and taking on a more ‘cutesy’ approach, this particular exhibition manages to exude that girlhood many women forget once they have become adults. The ceramics are patterned with girlish scribbles and doodles, and this artistic interpretation of hyper-femininity manages to convey a youthful dreaminess, all wrapped up in rainbows, clouds, and hearts.

Art is vague and multi-faceted, something so subjective that it can never be pinned down into one form. And though there are many new, incredible pieces that strive to make viewers sad, uncomfortable, upset, or angry – there is a certain wonder to Hislop’s art that audiences enjoy looking at; art that makes audiences happy. This joy does not take away from the meaning or substance of her art, and like with any other emotion, only makes it more profound.

Rainbows on Toast with Jam runs until May 27 at the Side Gallery.

Readers may also enjoy our story about Project 24 Artist Residency.