Archive for November 2nd, 2012

Sculpture by the sea

Today I visited sculpture by the sea with my mother and sister. This is the 16th year of the annual exhibition – you can see some photos from last year here (15-Nov-2011).
Ghost net crocodile was the most textile-y piece I saw (there are over 100 items in the exhibition, spread over a large area, so I could easily have missed others).
The photos don’t give a good idea of the scale – that croc is over 10 metres long. I hadn’t heard of “ghost nets” before. They are part of the marine debris floating around in the the oceans, old lost or deliberately abandoned fishing nets. The nets foul the ocean and coastline, and are a danger to marine life. Ghosts Nets Australia is an alliance of indigenous communities in northern Australia who care for their country through a range of projects including retrieval of nets and recycling/reuse.
Another work that made use of discarded rubbish is Jane Gillings’ midden. There must be thousands of pieces of plastic picnic cutlery, collected over time from rubbish piles. There was wonderful texture and movement in the piece, and it’s easy to see it in stitching – like seed stitch in a way, but grouped and aligned to work as a mass.
Poom by Staccato (a group of students from Chung-Ang University, South Korea) is a steel frame filled with used clothes. Going inside you could view messages from other visitors, words of hope to refugees. I gather the plan is to reuse the clothing after the exhibition, although perhaps only as rags after their exposure to the elements.

One of the things we’re meant to do as students is relate works in exhibitions to our work. Here there’s obviously a trivial level of colour mixing and texture (french knots on a large scale?). The idea of textiles as protection and shelter is more significant, the importance of textiles to human survival throughout history. The senses of continuity and connection are important parts of the attraction of textiles for me.

I love the directness of the message in this work by Dave Mercer – although checking the catalogue I see my interpretation didn’t quite match. I was thinking of the way corporations brand and appropriate community resources. The artist statement refers to the validation and importance that branding can give. I don’t think this view needs branding to be appreciated!
Here you can see my sister Rachel enjoying the view assisted by another sculpture, came back by Hiroaki Nakayama.
The thumbnail gives an idea of the outlook. These massive pieces of black granite stand in a wonderful relationship with the landscape. The catalogue includes some detail on Nakayama’s approach, and I am particularly drawn to the respect he gives to his materials, not challenging it but conscious of retaining its essence. Those ideas fit well with my interest in craftsmanship and the thought, care and respect I value in working (see post of 1-Nov-2012, especially comments on Ann Richards’ book).
This is part of mirador, by Rachel Couper and Ivana Kuzmanovska. This large dome is timber on the outside and a reflective material (perspex??) on the interior. In my photo I’ve carefully excluded the human element and focused on the framing of that view, but from the catalogue I gather that the artists intended reflections of the viewer to act as a commentary on the complex relationship between ourselves and nature.
With my textile hat on, ideas about layering, revealing and concealing, and contrasts of scale and material come to mind. I like the regularity of the dome’s structure imposed on the more chaotic natural world.

More reflections, this time kaleidoscope cube by Alex Ritchie. This cube of polished aluminium casts shadows as well as reflecting light and its surroundings. The shapes are simple and repetitive but the result is visually complex and varied. You might need to click on the photo for a larger view to see it, but it’s a surprise to see the sandstone cliff reflected with the sea behind. It would be interesting to see this work on a stormy day – I wonder how the light would change.
It’s interesting to go through my photos – it’s only now as I write this post that I see some common threads in the works I chose to photograph. This is m . 120901 by Toshio Iezumi, a stunning column of float glass, mirror and stainless steel.
Once again there is reflection and distortion, and I would very much like to see this in different weather and lighting. (Rae, if you’re reading this it would look most wonderful at your home, and then I could come and visit lots 🙂 ). Complex simplicity. Beautiful.
Repose by R.M. (Ron) Gomboc looks like a frozen moment, balanced and at rest. It was interesting to see something so matt and non-reflecting, and the contrast between that tranquility and the ceaseless movement and pounding of the waves below.
These works by Dion Horstmans are part of a series moonfire lm, using abstract geometrics to map time and space. In my mind they relate to some work by Ruarc Lewis I saw last weekend. I need to write about that, since it started a new train of enquiry for my theme work on Ageing and the contraction of Nancy’s physical space. Hopefully that post will come later this weekend.
A couple more of the sculptures to finish off. This is spinal column by Michael Purdy, and according to the catalogue is about growth. That’s it. No great explanation, no deep and meaningful or (alternatively) humour really. “Just” a very interesting and expressive shape beautifully executed.
April, cherry blossoms by Koichi Ishino has both the granite and the reflections that attracted me today. That line between the granite and the stainless steel is wonderful. To have it reflected in the “table” section together with the clouds today – very lovely indeed. There’s a quote from a newspaper in the catalogue which seems to me entirely unrelated to the piece, so I have no idea what is meant to be going on. There are curves and repeated shapes and hard lines – and how do such hard materials give a sense of fragility and lightness?
Finally, transition by Greer Taylor. It looks as if someone has taken a ruler and a couple of pens and drawn on this photo. The colours and shapes seem so out of place in the landscape.
…Having typed that I noticed that in the catalogue the work was shown with the sea and horizon in the background, so I’ve added a thumbnail which at least shows a little horizon. That straight line makes me see the work differently. Interesting – the importance of links between elements. The artists statement includes “…the roundness of the earth becomes a horizon”, so it seems that aspect of the setting is intentionally significant.

sculpture by the sea: sixteenth annual exhibition Bondi 2012 Catalogue and site map. Sculpture by the Sea Incorporated. Accessed 2-Nov-2012


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November 2012

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