A sample of sculpture
A jaunt through the McClelland Gallery Sculpture Survey is akin to stepping into Lewis Carroll’s looking glass. You never know what incongruity will confront and amaze you as you wend your way along the natural bushland paths.
Turn a bend and you may find a gum-booted kangaroo man in a Ned Kelly mask with a shopping trolley pouch; a bold night imp standing upright like a giant bling charm from a mobile phone; or Alexander the Great – a beetle, of the kind let out by Nanny in Melanie Safka’s seventies song, created from the poem written by A.A.Milne.
The kangaroo that is Geoffrey Ricardo’s Emblemic, has us questioning consumerism and considering waste as we draw lines between the various elements recycled or represented in the sculpture. We also admire his craftsmanship in design, construction and embellishment while smiling at the humour he has welded into his sculpture.
Drawn to Matt Calvert’s Night Imp, we reach out to touch the smooth surfaces of polished aluminium then gently stroke the cool mosaic of toughened glass. As we gaze at our fractured reflections held within, we realise the implications of the shattered windscreens that were used to clothe the wide-eyed imp.
In contrast, the rough surface of Dean Colls’ Alexander the Great does not invite smooth stroking over the surface – though it does entice a touch.
Instead we marvel at the scope and engineering of the project, hypothesising about its creation- that the design was drawn by the artist then uploaded to the computer and flattened so the huge pieces could be cut out of corten steel (an American material that develops a stable rust-like appearance if exposed to the elements for several months) before being assembled to form the beetle.
My favourite sculpture (yes, it has my vote in the Frankston City People’s Choice Award) is Matthew Harding’s mysterious Primordal.
After the initial surprise at encountering what is reminiscent of a pair of alien pods, these reflective eggs in polished stainless steel draw the viewer in, to step closer; step back, to the side; bending down or leaning over, all the time looking into the mirrored surface as we perform our impromptu dance.
Throughout the experience there is always a longing to touch. Our crisp, foreshortened reflections within the ti-tree setting are complicated by the duplicated reflections from the other egg. We are mesmerised and we pause for a long time in contemplation. Sometimes it is difficult to discern where reality begins and ends. In some ways the distorted world seems clearer and sharper. It is very alluring – perhaps that is the point.
How the McClelland Sculptures relate to my arts practice
I was surprised and intrigued by the works in the Sculpture Survey. They provoked questions about what constitutes a sculpture. The purpose is duplicitous – aesthetic and symbolic; and there are many considerations in design, choice of materials and final placement of the work. One must optimise the setting, light and shade and the approach to the sculpture; all of these inform the narrative.