Review in Artlink!!!

Fiona Roberts and my show The Beginning of the End (curated by Adele Sliuzas) got a great writeup in this month’s Artlink Magazine! you can have a look here or read below :)

The Beginning of the End: Claire Marsh and Fiona Roberts

Review by Stephanie Lyall for Artlink, vol 33 no 1, 2013

Adelaide Central School of Art graduates Claire Marsh and Fiona Roberts finish an illustrious 2012 with the opening exhibition in the apocalyptic The End series at DIY art space Format. The Beginning Of The End considers human response to trauma, and Marsh and Roberts’ works of fragility, illusion, surrealism and the grotesque are both poignant and masterful.


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Fiona Robertson In Knots 2012, mixed media. Photo: Fiona Robertson.

Roberts’ curiously unsettling In Knots is a small sweep of brown hair, not unlike a woman’s ponytail, that emanates from an open mouth, frozen in movement, at its crown. The deeply human yet physically impossible hybrid creature that lies on the floor of the space evokes both wonder and unease, raising questions as to what can constitute humanity – at what point does a collection of disparate parts become a being? How much of a body can be lost or rearranged before becoming something ‘other’?

Similar questions are evident in Marsh’s Crux, which anchors the exhibition, much in the same way her piece Shelter helped anchor the 2012 Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize. Where Shelter’s patchworked fur formed a clam-like vessel big enough for a person to curl up inside, Crux is a closed form that lazes on the floor. Kangaroo fur is stitched and compiled to make a new, hefty beast whose only identifying features, aside from the faceted fur, is a grid of four breast-like forms at one end. It’s a curious thing – docile, maternal, difficult to connect with and yet inexplicably inviting. There’s an overwhelming urge to touch, stroke or embrace the form, perhaps to see if a connection with living energy will rouse it, or simply confirm its dormancy. A befitting companion piece is Cloven, a pair of high-heeled shoes adorned with a voluminous fur covering. At first glance the shoes appear to be carved from bone, with marrow and dirt remaining in cavities etched into the sole. Yet the floorsheet reveals the true material – they are regular shoes covered in beeswax, and are a testament to the craftsmanship of the artist.

In contrast to Crux, Roberts’ installation The End legitimately invites interaction. A large maroon leather-bound book and two white gloves sit atop a small wooden desk. The book is a weighty tome, perhaps a thousand pages or more, and its title is simply ‘The End’. It’s ominous and clean. Who dares to open it? Those that engage in the glove-donning ceremony are met with page after page of the same message: “This page intentionally left blank.” Here, free will and determinism collide within a piece that is at once both disappointing and relieving, although many will not be brave enough to engage with the work – not out of fear of learning their fate, but out of its position in an exhibition whose delicacy of both subject and object seems almost certainly off limits to wandering hands.

Particularly delicate is Roberts’ In Pieces: thirteen small white ceramic busts arranged on a shelf. Each has a head injury – removed, split, cracked, severed – with the now separate parts suspended by wire to reveal blood red flock at the site of their disconnection. Clinical in presentation, their disconnection from trauma is both physical and metaphorical. Nearby is Roberts’ second ceramic piece In Vain, where an arm emanates from a jug that is held by its own hand in a looped response to the finite. The circular piece builds on the finality and hopelessness of the thirteen broken forms and delivers a different kind of purgatory through an infinite quandary.

Finally, a video work projected the full width of a wall: Marsh’s Hive. A swarm of bees crawl through holes in a damaged deathmask. The dull, industrious buzz of the insects fills the gallery but does not intrude; their insistent drone is not unsettling until matched with their grotesque movement in and out of the nose and mouth, creeping, buzzing and commanding a being that once was. Control has been relinquished; pain and discomfort is now for others to contend with.

Under the curation of Adele Sliuzas, the seven works are a humble whole. The sum of the parts is only marginally greater than the profundity of the individual works, but there’s a confident stillness in the space that’s unusual. Often the upper floor of Format is full to capacity with colour and novelty, or is at times tenuously conceived and hastily executed resulting in a disappointing emptiness. Here, care, consideration and skill is high in artists and curator, and Sliuzas makes the small exhibition seem large in the structurally ramshackle space. Each work invites viewing, but with qualifiers, like the way one might invite a young child into the room of an ill grandparent: “Come quietly, but step lightly and breathe deeply. Remain wide-eyed while ours are averted. This is the beginning of the end.”

New Exhibitions!!

I have 2 new exhibitions opening in the imminent future! “The Beginning of the End”, part of “The End Suite” at Format, opens THIS FRIDAY NIGHT at 6 pm, featuring new and previously un-shown work by Fiona Roberts and myself: 

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THE END SUITE
The Beginning of The End
Curated by Adele Sliuzas
Featuring Claire Marsh and Fiona Roberts
Opening 12-10-2012 at 6pm
12-10-2012 – 2-11-2012

Format Gallery
15 Peel Street, Adelaide

 

The Beginning of The End presents the work of two artists, Claire Marsh and Fiona Roberts, working within the field of sculpture. Both Marsh and Roberts produce works that question states of the body; transience, fragility and metamorphosis. Within this exhibition they will be questioning how the body reacts to trauma, and to the anxiety
of the possible end. Through processes of visual and physical mutations, Marsh talks about what she calls “the silent, the creaturely and the horror of the self.” Roberts’ work responds to change, decay and regeneration both physical and mental, often referencing the cyclical force of nature.

Supported by the Helpmann Academy

 

I will also have a mixture of some new work on show at Presence on King William (1/175 King William road, Hyde Park) from THIS SUNDAY the 14th of October:

“MIRRORED”
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Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize

Well, Seedling is well and truly de-installed, if you missed it I’ve uploaded install shots and the beautiful floor essay written by Sera Waters.

My work Shelter has also been lucky enough to not only be selected as a finalist in the Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize, but has also received a high commendation, which means it will be touring to the National Archives of Australia in Canberra for exhibition 21 Sept – 11 Nov 2012! So at least that will keep it out of my lounge room for a couple of months! The Waterhouse Art Prize exhibition will be open until Sunday Sept 9th at the SA Museum :)

claire marsh, "Shelter"

Claire Marsh, “Shelter”, 2011, furs, beeswax, thread, fiberglass, 100 x 90 x 180 cm

Swept Under at Seedling and Waterhouse

Well I have been working hard on a whole new body of work to show at my exhibition at Seedling Art Space “Swept Under”, The opening will be from 2 to 4 pm on Sunday 1st of July, with hot tea and refreshments, so come have a look! or if you can’t make it that day it will be open from Sat June 30 to Sun July 15, and I will be sitting the gallery saturdays and sundays from 10am to 2pm, so come pay me a visit!

I have also been fortunate enough to have my work “Shelter” selected as a finalist in the Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize, which will be on exhibit from sat 21st July to Sunday 9th of September along with all sorts of other amazing work, so make sure you go check that out too!