Mari Funaki ‘Objects’ @ NGV

18 10 2010

With only a week left before it closes, I finally found the right time to visit the Mari Funaki Objects‘ exhibition at the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia. The danger of long-running exhibitions is that I seem to always think there’s enough time to visit, and so it doesn’t become something urgent until I suddenly realise I’m quickly running out of time!


installation; photograph taken with gallery permission (without flash)


Exhibition media: “Mari Funaki (1950-2010) was well known as one of Australia’s leading contemporary jewellers and metal-smiths. Working predominantly with gold and blackened mild steel, she was highly regarded for her distinctive geometric jewellery forms and sculptural objects. This exhibition encompasses a range of works dating from the late 1990s to 2010 highlighting Funaki’s brilliant inventiveness with line, mass, volume and space across various sculptural forms and her remarkable consistency of vision throughout her artistic career. Featuring a dynamic installation of blackened mild steel objects and a number of recent large scale sculptures, Mari Funaki: Objects follows the artist’s gradual shift away from wearable or functional objects towards purely sculptural forms.

The exhibition design is sympathetic with the objects – a darkened room with the objects highlighted on large exhibition platforms. The most striking aspect for me were the scale of the larger objects – the reclining one must have been up to two metres long, and the standing objects probably up to my hips.


installation; photograph taken with gallery permission (without flash)


The smithing and metalworking skills it must have taken to make these very large objects is formidable and mind-boggling for me to consider.


installation; photograph taken with gallery permission (without flash)


The centre standing piece above is particularly attractive to me – it seems forlorn and thoughtful.

The smaller works on the central platform, of which there were twenty, reminded me more of insects or crustaceans … precariously balancing on spindly black legs, not interested in their neighbours but absorbed in their own thoughts, each about to gingerly creep across the white surface.


installation; photograph taken with gallery permission (without flash)


The insect-like nature was a little alienating to me actually … I don’t much like insects and such. I felt it wasn’t easy for me to connect to the pieces. Though the two little ones below were quite gorgeous – and of the few visitors into the room while I was there, were also the pieces that most gravitated towards.

It seems obvious to me now that these little pieces are most like the larger piece that I admired, more so than any other pieces … so there is something particularly attractive to me about the quietness of the more vertical pieces that seem to have their heads down in thought… perhaps they are less predatory than those with their limbs more akimbo, ready for movement…


installation; photograph taken with gallery permission (without flash)


I missed out on a ticket to see the talk by Otto Kunzli a few weeks ago, which I am sad about – for perhaps it would have helped to see these works through the eyes of someone who knew Mari and her own feelings about the collection. I did enjoy my visit, but felt I could only connect to a few pieces and was dearly hoping to connect a little more.

Other writings about their experience of the exhibition: Markus of Art Blart shares a lovely interpretation and more images (with people, so you can see the scale of the larger pieces), and a brief mention by Regina Middleton; actually I am surprised more haven’t written…

Mari Funaki ‘Objects‘ is at Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia from 6th August – 24th October 2010.

A few more photographs below:


installation; photograph taken with gallery permission (without flash); changed to black and white



installation; photograph taken with gallery permission (without flash)




One response

24 11 2010

thankyou so much for the photos! i live in sydney and there was no way i could make it to see this one. I like how your honest about your opinion in regards to her work. I have a rather big attachment towards her work, i get this sense of fragility and playfulness from them. Also i think she has captured movement within her sculptures, there is distinct direction that her forms take if you know what i mean? hehe

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