‘Re-Visions: new art from old’ @ RMIT First Site Gallery

27 09 2010

Having recently heard Helen Dilkes speak at the RMIT Seminar, and admiring her work an exhibition last year, I was interested to see her work in ‘Re-Visions: new art from old‘ at RMIT First Site Gallery. She is joined by Sarah Edwards and Charlene King in making work in response to Turner’s ‘Rain, Steam and Speed‘ oil painting.

Turner: Rain, Steam and Speed (image in public domain)

Also though, I have a particularly strong attraction to the making of art in response to other artworks (I’ve written about this before) – I love the idea and am always interested in how others respond themselves – so that was also a big part of wanting to see this exhibition.

Each of the three artists have made one piece in response to this painting – the sparseness of the room in keeping with the mood of the painting I think.

installation; Helen Dilkes pieces

Helen’s piece reminded me of steam clouds. The texture was interesting – it looked like it could have been made from cuttlefish-cast components; the construction was so intriguing (I couldn’t spot any solder joins, most confounding!). And of course I love exhibition displays that play with shadows.

Helen’s artist statement links this piece with her exploration of conic sections and slices, as “a kind of metaphor for duration“.  On initially seeing the piece I made my own connection to the painting, however I felt much less certain of this after I reading her text, which I have to admit confused me a bit … it’s certainly not a criticism by any means, though it has made me think about the balance of sharing the meaning behind an artwork versus leaving the interpretation to the viewers’ imaginations.

An artist will naturally respond to another artwork within the context of their own practice – I’ve done it myself – though I wonder if compressing much detail (which has taken the artist a great deal of time to explore in-depth) into an artist statement potentially complicates the relationship of viewer to the work being observed? I’ve often found it difficult to know how much of the background detail to share when discussing a particular piece – do I share the whole background of my research, or enough of it to give a little context to the viewer, or nothing and just let the viewer draw their own conclusions… how much do I want to influence their experience? I know I often appreciate background information, but does everyone? I think it takes great skill to find just the right balance, and of course it is different for each artist.
Just a few thoughts … I like that a visit to an exhibition can provokes such contemplation of related issues…

Update (27th September): in one of those coincidences that sometimes happen, both in making and writing, Mark of Melbourne Art & Culture Critic also recently shared some thoughts about artist statements (also quoting from one of my recent posts, which gave me great pleasure; thank you Mark!)

Sarah Edwards (installation) and Charlene King (paintings)

Re-Visions: new art from old‘ is at RMIT First Site Gallery until 25th September 2010 (sorry – I have been out of Melbourne so much the last few weeks that I only got to visit it on one of the last days!).

Update (28th September): I have just found that Mary Hackett has also written a review of this exhibition, in which she has answered one of the questions I had by detailing that the pieces were made using rapid prototyping …


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