Getting my Fix

It’s hard, in my view, to go to Sydney without visiting the Art Gallery of New South Wales. So that’s where we went, and we were lucky enough to catch Illuminate, the installation by the Euraba Artists and Papermakers Collective. I just love it, but I’m afraid of sounding very ignorant since as an Anglo in-comer I know next to nothing about living in a humpy or life for many indigenous Australians.

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I sat down in the gallery and watched the images flickering off the corrugations of the paper walls, the paper obviously pulled and couched onto the iron that often makes walls and rooves in this baking land. I love the surface and the texture of the corrugations and the paper itself, and its use as a light-box to show the flickering film is genius. It made me slightly mournful about my PhD, since one of the strands was the making of life-size paper houses, albeit using papier maché. The virtuoso simplicity of the hut made me realise that I can do more with my own work – I just need to think differently about it.

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Ken Unsworth, Suspended Stone Circle II, 1988, 103 river stones and wire.  This piece has a whole gallery to itself, with the wires pulled taut to three pinch-points high up near the ceiling.  I was talking to a passing volunteer guide about the following image (Carl Andre, Crucis, which you can walk all over!) and she told me that at 88 years old, Unsworth was in the gallery every day, overseeing minute adjustments in the wires before he was satisfied with the installation.  The process apparently takes days, but at least they start with all the rocks placed just so on a supporting platform before they suspend them!  She also told me that Unsworth was firm about the fact that the piece doesn’t mean anything, it just is, which is refreshing.  I love the interplay between the heavy stones, the impossibly thin wires, and the floor: complex shadows fall under the stones and they seem repelled by the floor of the gallery as if floating on an anti-gravity device.

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It was also fun seeing the Lower Level Three gallery in flux, in preparation for a Sol LeWitt exhibition.  I wonder who DOES the drawings?

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