In the galleries: Caprice and function hang together through the looking glass

By Mark Jenkins

Contributing reporter

Today at 6:00 a.m. EST.February 25, 2022.

Hammersley and Smith

Natural phenomena assume novel configurations in the work of Oenone Hammersley and Darren Smith, two local artists exhibiting together at the Athenaeum. Hammersley is a painter whose pictures often take sculptural forms that emulate their subjects. Smith is a photographer who dissects and reassembles his images in kaleidoscopic arrangements.



Oenone Hammersley’s “Reflecting Wave” emulates the fluidity of turbulent water. (The Athenaeum/NVFAA)

Many of Hammersley’s mixed-media pictures are painted on wooden panels whose contoured edges imitate the fluidity of turbulent water. Rendered mostly in eddies of white and various blues, the semiabstract seascapes glisten with hard-edge acrylic pigments and shiny materials such as glass beads. “Reflecting Wave” swirls on the wall as if about to break, while the less naturalistic “Reflecting Pool” insets small mirrors into a picture whose basic diamond shape is softened by oceanic tendrils.

Hammersley depicts nature to call attention to its fragility, and is involved with several conservation groups. But her work is not altogether solemn. In a pair of “Washed Away” paintings, whirlpools of poured paint circle with actual metal drains.

Oenone Hammersley’s “Washed Away 2” Whirlpool of poured paint circle with actual metal drain. (The Athenaeum/NVFAA)

It’s a winningly playful way of representing mankind’s influence over even the stormiest waters.


Oenone Hammersley and Darren Smith Through March 6 at the Athenaeum, 201 Prince St., Alexandria.