National Gallery of Australia | Audio Tour | The National Sculpture Prize and Exhibition 2005



Audio guide to works from the The National Sculpture Prize and Exhibition shown at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 15 July – 9 October 2005


  • Geoffrey BARTLETT, Double self-portrait 2004

    22/11/2007 Duration: 01min

    Double self-portrait is a sculptural re-exploration of concepts first undertaken through a body of aquatints while on a Harkness Fellowship in 1983–85 at Columbia University. At that time it was my intention to take back ground previously thought to be the domain of the painter, namely their facility to distort scale in an illusionary space. Giacometti explored similar issues by the placement of figures within an inferred landscape, resulting in the manipulation of our perception of their scale. In the case of Double self-portrait, the viewer is drawn into the pictorial space created by the black frame and may begin to imagine the two portraits to be of vast proportions. Double self-portrait also explores our perception of self and its many incarnations. The recurring fascination I have with ‘anima’ – the sculptural study of personality and more specifically its resulting investigation of the female side of the male personality – is a focus for Double self-portrait. For many years this has been a constant an

  • James ANGUS, Manta ray 2003

    22/11/2007 Duration: 01min

    I wanted to capture an aspect of natural history in a state of suspended animation. I was hoping it might be beautiful, but also sad, as if the software I’d used had inadvertently caused its demise. It would be simultaneously alive and deathly. Of course, sculpture has always contended with this problem. As much as I wanted to reiterate the very objecthood and kinaesthesia that sculpture tends to engage in one way or another, I also wanted to cast a shadow of doubt across the current tide of digital effects and media. I decided that a manta ray would be suitably complicated – they seem to drift between post-millennial spookiness and weird evolution, a natural phenomenon that is already coloured by the way we understand modern design. They are obscure but familiar, gentle by nature but large enough to be intimidating. They are often referred to as devil rays. I started working with an industrial designer to produce the sculpture. I wanted geometry to do most of the work for us – in other words, to build a ma

  • Juliana BARTULIN, Barcelona devotional 2003

    22/11/2007 Duration: 01min

    My work usually results from a direct and labour-intensive process. Meditative process and tracing the time of creating the work are integral to an idea of direct experience, of being present, in the making and viewing scenarios. It could be termed ‘Slow Art’, in feeling the fullness of time in making, perhaps the work in turn slows down the viewer’s ‘normal’ experience of intersubjective time. To give oneself time seems gently subversive in a world that is continuing to speed up. Barcelona devotional was made in Barcelona during an Australia Council for the Arts residency. My research there included investigations into the use of pattern and repetition in both religious and secular works in light of an historical notion of mosaic work as a practice of paying tribute to the Muses (Protectors of the Arts) through a kind of devotional toil. This piece took the grid (mesh) as a starting point, which I saw as a metaphor for Barcelona as a prototypical urban centre. When folded, the grid becomes elliptical and su

  • Lachlan WARNER, Buddha of infinite directions 2004-05

    22/11/2007 Duration: 01min

    It has often been observed that when westerners come to Buddhism, those brought up Catholic are drawn to the colourful Tibetan practices and those brought up Protestant go for the more austere Theravadan styles of Thailand and Burma. I’m an exception to that idea. Around 1997 I became interested in Buddhist thought. Inevitably, I thought about making work around Buddhist meditation practice, as many western artists have. Later I was more fascinated by the imagery that the texts bring up, and their political and social implications. The Buddha taught using strong visual metaphor. There are constantly ideas and images brought to mind for me that hopefully, and ironically, lead me into areas where words and intellect can’t hope to go, Nibbana! I later started thinking about the Buddha image itself. This face that I could rest in. What did it mean for me, as a westerner, brought up with the Abrahamic coalition’s distain for idols? And what of all those decorator Buddhas that pop up in design magazines? As Budd

  • Craig WALSH, Cross-reference 2004

    22/11/2007 Duration: 01min

    Cross-reference continues a series of interventionist works that address the public, private and transitional aspects of both the gallery space and other public spaces. The defined architectural boundaries of the gallery site are ruptured through an open door, which not only expose an external environment but also provides alternative access to the internal exhibition. As participants of the Big Day Out music festival appear to examine the gallery, its art and its audience, the gallery public also experience an unexpected view of the music festival and its audience. The work not only inverts the space of the exhibition but the uncertainty created between the artwork/viewer is literally mirrored between the exhibition/external public space. The juxtaposition of two disparate sites and the simulated interaction between the participants of these sites aims to disrupt preconceived expectations of specific cultural and social contexts, and the way in which audiences are conditioned to interact and participate. T

  • Neil TAYLOR, Virtual hermetic 2003

    22/11/2007 Duration: 01min

    The use of wire combines the evocative power of drawing with the actual presence of form. The interior as well as the exterior is illustrated and a heightened sense of volume is achieved. Modelled shadow has been replaced by stereoscopic cues and contour section. The whole has a light theoretical cast; volume is illustrated with minimal mass. Photography: Mark Ashkanasy

  • Paul SELWOOD, Turbulence 2004

    22/11/2007 Duration: 01min

    Turbulence started as an idea to model the sky. To try and turn the sky into an object. To identify vectors and work ‘infinite’ space into a closed system. For this, I thought to make a sculpture in which interior spaces merge and change. I wanted the sculpture to be high and complex so that it never repeats itself as the viewer moves around it. This would actively encourage the movement of the viewer around and back and forth in order to perceive the relationship of parts and the structures that hold them. The time taken for this active reading of the sculpture also becomes an ingredient in the perceived unity, as a space–time continuum, like the time taken to read and understand a poem. ‘Shaped planes’ in space are perceived as other than what we know them to be. When they are looked at from angles other than at ninety degrees to the viewer, circles become ellipses, squares become rhomboid. The shapes of ‘spaces’ created by shape planes that are not at ninety degrees to the viewer, transform in an even mor

  • Tony SCHWENSEN, Monument to progressing thought (after Homer Simpson) 2003

    22/11/2007 Duration: 01min

    Monument to progressing thought (after Homer Simpson) is an attempt to locate what I regard as the most significant trajectory of sculptural investigation of the twentieth century, the ready-made, within the then contemporary debate surrounding the proposition to investigate the reversing of Australia’s rivers to irrigate the inland. The sheer absurdity of this knee-jerk suggestion was instantly reminiscent of something that Homer Simpson would propose and attempt to carry out, and certainly reminded me of The Simpsons episode where Homer’s failed attempt to build a BBQ is diagnosed/discovered as outsider art. His final artwork is flooding his town to make a new magical Venice, which is loved and enjoyed by all. Monument to progressing thought (after Homer Simpson) is my proposition to sculpturally commemorate what might have been had this reversal of the rivers proposition been allowed to develop just a little further. It is not difficult to imagine welfare recipients being mutually obliged to wheel barrow-

  • Alasdair MACINTYRE, The Art Park Project 2002

    22/11/2007 Duration: 01min

    As an artist, I take in concepts and ideas from various and diverse sources. One writer that I find most interesting in terms of constructing an attitude towards life and my own art practice is American mythology writer Joseph Campbell. In individual terms Campbell spoke of having one’s ears open to ‘the song of the universe’, and of artists as the mythmakers of our times. As part of my own ministry I am keenly aware of my own environment and how this environment can be made into a contemporary mythology. Previous works I have created include immediate and local references, such as elements of my own local aesthetic and spiritual edifice, the Queensland Art Gallery, as well as local exhibiting and personal spaces. I began formulating the basic concept of The Art Park Project during a visit to Movie World, one of several theme parks in the south-east Queensland region. At the time my art practice was focused on the Legends of art series, whereupon artists themselves were the focus of the work, mainly in the

  • Ruth JOHNSTONE, The doll's house gallery (boxed) 2004

    22/11/2007 Duration: 01min

    The phenomenological playfulness in the process of model making is guided by Jonathan Swift’s descriptions of the inversions of scale between humans and architectural environments in Gulliver’s travels. In his sojourn on Lilliput, Gulliver was housed within the outer walls of a large property but was unable to access the interior of any building other than to peer through windows. This play on the denial of access to space other than through tiny vistas triggers the imagination of the viewer in a particular way so as to transcend the impossibility of being able to physically enter that space. An architectural model does not replicate the sensory experience of the full-scale architectural source, but it does provide a reference for triggering memory of experience or imagination, and it is indeed a work in its own right. If the notion of the miniature as a metaphor for interiority is to be embraced, then the contextual placement of the model within a gallery space may well heighten the experience of interiorit

  • David JENSZ, Unbounded space 2005

    22/11/2007 Duration: 01min

    Physicists have amassed a lot of information about the universe, considering that they have gathered it from Earth – a mere grain of sand in the scheme of things. Many theories about space/time are challenging. Indeed it is often the gap between an abstract concept about the nature of space/time and my everyday experience of it that is the motivating force behind my work. Unbounded space speculates about the shape of an expanding universe. Einstein was the first to suggest that space might be finite yet unbounded. Steven Hawking and James Hartle propose that in the very first moments of the Big Bang space and time were merged. They claim that the origin of the universe becomes redundant when the Big Bang singularity is ‘smoothed out’. As Hawking states, ‘the boundary condition of the universe is that it has no boundary’.[1] The universe just is. To help visualise an expanding universe physicists sometimes use the image of an inflating balloon. They imagine dots on the balloon representing galaxies and the sp

  • Patrick HALL, Stack 2005

    22/11/2007 Duration: 01min

    My older sister would, in a three-dimensional Superman comic sort of typeface, loudly proclaim her ownership by writing her name over and over on her things. Mum became particularly aggrieved when her graffiti branding colonised her school textbooks, obliterating title and author. I remember Steff’s response to Mum’s protests: ‘It’s only writing, that’s what books are’. Perhaps it’s the overlaying and assertion of independent thought on the existing that allows us to make our own structures and find our own meanings. It is how we shuffle language and symbol to form blocks of pattern, how we stack shades of opinion, one on another, how we lay facts and fictions side by side, how we order, rank and classify the views of others that allows us to find space – a little void to calibrate our own experience, a place to put our own thoughts. Photography: Peter Whyte

  • Richard GOODWIN, Moth 2003

    22/11/2007 Duration: 01min

    Moth forms the next work in my exploration of exoskeleton and prosthetic architecture. NASA moon photographs depicting a sole astronaut roaming next to his flimsy vehicle are evoked. Travelling on a sea of equations the journey into space is made. Similarly, all aesthetic judgements are born of number and calculus. The language of numbers in Moth intersects with my obsessive-compulsive past. Moth is about metamorphosis and the journey towards light or a solution. Such is the short life of the Moth emerging from its exoskeleton carapace to fly its erratic vectors before succumbing to the strange attractor of pure light. Moth is a central metaphor for the human condition, which combines a Moth Boat with the prospect of the viewer as a driver.

  • Bert FLUGELMAN, Caryatid minotaur 2004-05

    22/11/2007 Duration: 01min

    Caryatid Minotaur is ostensibly an arch, yet the caryatids are too close together to allow a person to pass. The tension set up by this contradiction invites reflection on the mirror-finished horns of this dilemma. Reflection in all meaning of the word. I have been fascinated by Greek mythology from an early age and I have previously worked with the Icarus and Minotaur myth. They all seem to resonate very well when contemplating the myth and confusion of contemporary life and art politics, as well as what one might euphemistically call the real world. This sculpture is also important to me because of the introduction of curved lines and surfaces. It opens up a whole new field for me and I am excited by the possibilities that I am now pursuing in a series of maquettes. It is important to me that a work is open to layers of interpretation, and that it is conceptually rich and invites speculation. Of equal importance is the physical presence of the sculpture as an icon that exercises its power through other th

  • Bonita ELY, Bonsai landscape 2003

    22/11/2007 Duration: 01min

    Folded and glued like free-standing ‘point of a sale’ advertisements, hundreds of crisp, white cardboard cut-outs make up the floor installation Bonsai landscape. The objects are precisely placed so they turn, robot-like, in strictly controlled conformity to each other. From one particular viewpoint the viewer sees a dense, miniature forest of repetitive, tree-like imagery; from the opposite view the folds create an intricate panorama of cloned geometry that transforms and shifts like a tonal animation as the viewer moves around the ensemble. There are three protagonists. Scattered throughout a forest of bonsai trees are images of an inscrutable rock in dialogue with a fire hydrant. Together the components inscribe a shape on the gallery floor, reminiscent of the monoculture of commercial forestry, configured to map the shape of the 2003 bushfires in and around Canberra. The bonsai image, nature fictionalised, is derived from a photograph of a grove of trees I noticed growing along a gully on a hillside in

  • Mikala DWYER, Selving 2004

    22/11/2007 Duration: 01min

    Selving could be splitting, halving or doubling a temporary manifestation of a continual transfer of sorts. Selving could be a to and fro of thin air contained in plastic forms in a scale approximate to your body. A transfer might occur between you and it as you imagine yourself in there. So where are you, where am I, where does that and this self start or finish? If you imagine yourself in there or refracted and multiplied in a mirror, or you imagine yourself left for the worms in a wooden box, or perhaps you imagine yourself standing nearby in your skin, or perhaps find yourself in a daydream someplace faraway. I like to imagine ghosts floating through walls. If I could know the frequency of the wall matter could I float through? Would it be slow or fast? Maybe I could lose all definition, maybe lose myself. When I was working on this piece a little fly got trapped in the plastic, which I didn’t notice until after I had titled the show in a general way Flowers, flies and someone else. It was a strange coinc

  • Geoffrey DRAKE-BROCKMAN, Floribots 2005

    22/11/2007 Duration: 02min

    Flowers are organs of plant procreation – they attract insects to act as vectors for fertilisation. But flowers also appeal Flowers are organs of plant procreation - they attract insects to act as vectors for fertilisation. But flowers aslo appeal to humans. To us, a flower’s beauty is defining of all that is pure and joyful in the world. The majesty of the annual – the flower that blooms with all its vitality for one short moment before withering away – plays out the tragedy of life in a single act: ‘we grow, we are beautiful, we die’. The solitary flower domesticated in a pot is emblematic of suburban iconography. Flowerpots are living garden objects that we have brought closer to us, onto the patio, where we can tend them carefully and enjoy their presence at close quarters. The squared-off flowers of Floribots are well removed from the organic domain. They are mechanoids. However, in a way they too can play out the drama of life and death – bloom and wither – and they can show us other things as well...

  • Glen CLARKE, American crater near Hanoi #2 2005

    22/11/2007 Duration: 01min

    The correct distance between objects is critical, whether that distance is physical, cultural or emotional. Two objects too close to each other become one, Two objects too far apart no longer relate to each other. Intrigued by experiments with chance relationships, accidental spatial configurations and a type of spontaneous feng shui, the focus of the work is not only the objects – whether found, made or observed – but the space around, between and inside the objects, being the cultural or emotional significance of the objects. I often observe Australia from outside Australia; I want to see how it is perceived from another position and also from cultures within Australia. Following an invitation to work in Vietnam in 1998, and my experience of living in Vietnam, the work references Australia’s involvement with Vietnam and Vietnamese migrants in Australia. This work deals with characters, events and locations that are significant in that which has helped shape Australia: Gallipoli, Mabo, Banjo Patterson, Ma

  • Maria Fernanda CARDOSO, Woven water: submarine landscape 2003

    22/11/2007 Duration: 01min

    I am interested in chaos and complexity theories, where simple units form complex systems and if you follow those systems it somehow connects us to the universe. In Woven water: submarine landscape I want to create the illusion of the ocean and its currents. The piece is commenting on the environmental impact tourism has on animals and our planet. Although the feeling evoked in a viewer ‘immersed’ in the artwork is peace and tranquillity, the frozen and dry nature of these sea creatures hints at their ghostlike and melancholic end. Photography: Ross Rudesch Harley