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SLICE 2009

Solo exhibiton in the making of installation and painting @ Project Contemporary ArtSpace, Wollongong

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installtion view myalls apart myalls apart myalls apart (detail) leaf sling leaaf sling to breath spread and ga[llery view spread blood blood detail installtion view painting change over wall grid - leaves installation view inscrutable : grass incrutable : bark before and after before and after incubation i incubation i & ii incubation ii my feet grow roots lightbox thumbnail galleryby VisualLightBox.com v6.0

A slice reveals that which is inside. Even when slicing into a humble loaf of bread that which is not seen from the outside is revealed, exposing this one-off, hidden thing to the light of day.

SLICE was an exhibition of installation sculpture installed in Project Contemporary ArtSpace in Wollongong for two weeks during April 2009. SLICE was not produced behind closed doors – it was an “exhibition in the making”, allowing the process of its installation to be revealed to the audience over its existence. This approach laid bare part of the artmaking process, while creating an ever-changing exhibition: an exhibition evolving daily.

Change embodies the process of ‘becoming’. Nature is ever-changing, life is ever-changing… one thing becomes another, things grow and decay, and in that decay become transformed – nothing is truly static.

Art shows come and go within an exhibition venue but often, once installed, remain static within the space, altered only by the passing of visitors through the space. During SLICE works were installed as the exhibition progressed, changing and growing the exhibition as a whole, allowing it to be transformed by its conclusion.

Even once installed some of the works continued to change: for the installation leaf sling I brought into the gallery fresh leaf mulch, which over the exhibition’s duration changed colour and released into the canvas sling its tannins, creating patterns changing daily (as well as contributing to the smell within the gallery). The kinetic installation to breathe changes over a 20 minute cycle taking breaths and slowly deflating/decaying to become something else.

To further explore the idea of change throughout an exhibition, each morning the one painting on display was replaced, in effect altering the relationships existing between all the works.

The interaction of the pieces within the exhibition space was an important factor in my choice of works created during SLICE. Project Artspace places few restrictions on how work can be attached to the building's structure – I was able to make attachment points in the floor, walls and ceiling, allowing for the installation of large works that spanned floor to ceiling and wall to wall. For example, the work blood included anchor points placed on the floor, wall and ceiling, connected by pulling and stretching red plastic tube between the points.

Other works tension themselves directly against the gallery walls, floor or ceiling in an attempt to defy all gravitational forces. The canvas sling of leaf sling hangs is space pulled side to side between two walls, while opposing upward and downward forces (ceiling to floor) create funnels and collection points. While the installation spread features a two dimensional transparent slice dropped down from the ceiling to hover in space filling a three dimensional space as gravity is allowed to exert its force, this cradle of space is controlled by weights dropped from its corners to within inches of the ground.

Funnelling and connecting are concepts that carry through many of the works in SLICE: rain connects sky and earth and a river funnels water through the land, veins funnel blood through the body… funnels connect one place with another. The work my feet grow roots is a cone/funnel, a connection between earth and sky –  something I experienced in its potency one day while sitting in a desert. This prompted me to write: “my feet grow root and my soul touches the sky”. The kinetic work to breathe funnels compressed air from one place to another;  while the work blood funnels the colour of blood through a lace of red plastic tube.

Central to my work is my experience of wild places, or wilderness. The concepts explored in SLICE are inspired by my interactions with wild places. Wild places reveal the process of change, decay, becoming, the ongoing patterns, complexity and simplicity surrounding us that is often hidden or overlooked in our busy urban lives. Many of the ideas for SLICE actually found their genesis while I was sitting on a rock in some wild place: the title of the work myalls apart refers directly to its place of origin: Myall Creek Valley.

Our bodies are wild places, a reflection of the earth as a living body. In SLICE references to the interior of our bodies and land run in parallel. The work to breathe emulates lungs, in the sense that the work is filled intermittently by air and then deflates, it is at the same time referring to the cycle of growth and decay, drought and flood found in all natural cycles. The installation blood references the body’s circulatory system –  an interlace of red tube hangs in space reminiscent of arteries, veins and capillaries around the body, while parallelling the growth patterns of trees and flow patterns of rivers.

Our bodies and the earth are vulnerable, fleshy, finite, easily damaged, this reality is acknowledged most especially by the use of a fleshy pink in a number of works; incubation I & II feature flesh pink cradles supporting a mass of delicately soft white coils of muslin, ultimately spilling over the edges in an act of becoming... the work myalls apart uses pink to accentuate its delicacy while at the same time is reminiscent of the muscle fibres that make up our own being.

Vulnerability recognises change, becoming and decay. SLICE was an exhibition in the making, an exhibition that changed from day to day, an exhibition that set out to expose the inside of things, to explore that which is not always seen and to expose their vulnerabilities to the light of day.