Grotto opening at Saint Cloche in December
A group exhibition featuring new work by 12 artists is opening on 15 December 2021 at Saint Cloche gallery, Sydney. If you are in the area please come along! My take on the exhibition theme is probably a little grim: I have been thinking about the what the world might be like towards the end of human civilisation, with remnant groups of people retreating to caves to escape extreme weather, and the cultural heritage which had been protected to this point (and maybe even stored in caves for their preservation, as with during WW2) left to decay, perhaps mineralising and becoming more stalagmite-like as the years progress. Perhaps people will return to animism, seeing gods in the rock formations around them, making offerings for safe passage through the difficult underground terrain, or protection from outside clans. However, bleak as my musings have been, there is still plenty of humour in the objects and their juxtapositions; personally I find the rocky animalish forms quite playful, and there is certainly beauty to be found in textured vessels which might have been created deep in the earth before pushing their way to the surface. I've drawn on experiences of visiting limestone caves in different parts of the world, like Sfendoni in Crete, used as a secret storage place for rebel arms and curing cheeses, now lit up for visitors in a changing array of colours, so as to preserve the fragile surfaces from the UV in white light; Nerja in Andalucía, with a 32m long stalactite, possibly the largest (known) in the world; and Al Hoota in Oman, home to a vast underground lake populated with a unique, eyeless species of fish.
Here's the text that accompanies my work in the show:
Something that has always interested me is how materials interact and decay. Limestone caves, with their endless cycle of erosion and deposition, demonstrate small interactions over time causing spectacular change. The pieces in Grotto take as their starting point the grotti of renaissance Italy, all ersatz stalactites, marble nymphs and tinkling fountains, but reimagined in a future time, left to crumble and accrete in the twilight of human existence. I considered, too, the way natural cave formations are anthropomorphised – we search for features we recognise in the shapes, and name them accordingly – and how, in the numinous space of the cave, formations seem to take on these identities and inhabit their underground world like members of a silent but slowly intermingling community. My works are the hybridized product of these impressions, part sculpture in a state of decomposition, part cave formation as creature.