Thanks to CHARLES ROBB, STEPHEN NEWTON, JAMES & ELEANOR AVERY for contributing to a lively panel discussion at Caboolture Hub on Saturday 21 March 2015. This forum, following a morning of artist talks, delved into “Material Matters in Contemporary Sculpture”, an element that charges current work in three dimensions. After almost an hour of discussion that elicited the very different approach that each takes to their material, fellow “Con/Struct” artist Stephen Hart noted, from the audience, that what may be at the heart of this discussion is: “the immaterial in the material”.
At the recent Australia Council awards (2015), Stelarc was celebrated for his career in which his body has been material. James Turrell, subject of a survey exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia (Canberra), uses light, air, even the skies, as his subject and material. Zhang Huan’s monumental buddha at Carriageworks, Sydney, is created from incense collected from temples in Shanghai. Designed to literally dissolve over time (and metaphorically carrying the memories, prayers and hopes of the incense-burners), each of these works, and so many more – including those in Caboolture – reflect the realities of our times through their selection of material.
No longer is material illusory, or disguised. In recent years, the agency of the object is in its materials, all of which forms part of the increasingly immersive and experiential nature of contemporary art. In this exhibition of contemporary sculpture, a great initiative from the dynamic team at Caboolture, materials may reflect or offer the audience a variety of experiences. Stephen Newton’s work in natural timbers evokes the spiritual and natural, Charles Robb’s series of tableaux is part of an ongoing self portraiture or memoir project with intriguing dimensions, and James and Eleanor Avery’s glittering work develops cultural iconography with humour and irony.
Con/Struct: Celebrating Queensland Sculpture, Caboolture Regional Art Gallery, 7 February to 11 April, 2015. Curator: Claire Sourgnes.