'First Annual Contemporary Arts Exhibition'

The University of South Australia



I am interested in initiating a dialogue with the audience about play as a critical state of being, and how it acts as a joining force to connect art with the body. Through the use of specific material and the way it is arranged, I have drawn from the inherent connection play has to childhood to insight a nostalgic and embodied response in the spectator. The objects within the installation are thought forms; both suspended in the air or grown from the ground, they are a product of a desire to pull and push the materials to further understand the world that surrounds. 

My practice is studio oriented and based on an intuitive process of editing and evaluating the compositional balance of the forms as a painter does when constructing a painting. Through the process of play and the practice of repetitive trial and error, the works have been arranged, ordered, painted and moulded the same way a painter pulls and pushes the paint around the space of a canvas. I have thought of the space as a painting that can be entered and therefore captured and considered from different spectator positions. Through exploration and experience with the tactility of the surfaces, the spectator individually composes compositions around the space. The forms and colours are weighted in such a way that from whatever angle the viewer takes, the movement of the repeated colours and forms is consistently new. When walking through the space, the viewer is pulled to experience the texture of the surfaces at close proximity on a level of haptic touch. This is a level of sensation rooted in the body. 

The space is an extension of the modern capitulation of a painting as espoused by Clement Greenberg fundamentally because of the attention that is put on the surface qualities of the objects within the compositional space. I have used Greenberg’s idea of ‘the picture plane’ and extended it to become an installation space that one can walk through and experience with and around their body. This idea is underlined by Barry Schwabsky in his essay Painting in the interrogative mode: ‘We should not overlook what gives painting its specific importance to art in general – its engagement not so much with the eye as is sometimes thought, but with the body of both the maker and the viewer.’ 

I am inspired by the act of making and how thinking goes on as much in the hands and fingers as in the head. Nothing in the studio is made in isolation, and the materials are fundamental to this act. Predominantly within this installation I have used felt, clay and paper mache. These materials are fused in the mind of the spectator with childhood, play, and intimacy. I am using felt’s associated weight and its ability to insulate and protect to illicit a familiar warmth in the audience. The clay and the paper mache sculptural pieces are abstracted, organic forms that have been crafted by the human hand. The visceral qualities of the surfaces of the materials give them an intimacy that immediately connects them with the body. The use of spray paint on the materials draws our attention to the surfaces of the forms and transcends the spontaneity and vigour required during the state of play.