Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Remember to breathe

ashes to porcelain 2, originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

I went to the opening of the third in a series of four graduation exhibitions tonight. The series is called Omniscience, and it is the Graduate Season of the ANU ART School. It's been a great season so far, and this exhibition is no less wonderful.

I'm really missing my camera! I know I can borrow other cameras, but it never seems to be when I see what I want to photograph. I would have loved to show you the final incarnation of this piece in the photo.

I took the photo at the end of October. I thought I'd blogged it, but I can't find the post. It's called Death of the Author, and it's by Rachel Kingston, who was studying photography and ceramics. It was on display in the School foyer for a few weeks, as a work in progress.

It looks like a pile of screwed-up sheets of paper, but it's actually sheets of bone porcelain, screwed up and fired. The porcelain is literally 'bone' because it also contains donated human cremains.* That's why it caught my eye, and imagination. It works on so many levels.

In the final piece displayed tonight, Rachel has remade the pile, but on the floor in a private corner, with a light source underneath the pile so that it glows from the centre. She has shifted the title (and to my shame my memory has lost it... and I didn't even have a drink at the opening! Capote boasted 94% recall, I have zilch.), but it still works as a poignant piece about loss, frustration, waste, life, death... and so forth.

She had another piece, also an installation, of a perspex writing desk and chair. The desk is covered with paper and envelopes. Some of the papers talk of family history, others have sketches and lists. The envelopes are extremely realistic. All, again, made from bone porcelain containing cremains. I do remember the title this time: Untitled (1917-2004).

There are other beautiful pieces in this group show, like Lucette Aubort's gorgeous column of glass jellyfish of various sizes, suspended up to the ceiling amongst strings of clear glass beads. Think Finding Nemo and then experience it in glass. There's also other ceramicists and a gold & silversmith on show. Really lovely work.

If you're in Canberra at the moment, pop into the art school gallery. This show goes until 10 March, and is followed by another on 16 March. It's well worth a look. I'm sorry I didn't mention the earlier shows, because it's been a quality year for postgraduates.

*I wasn't sure 'cremains' was a word; it's not in the OED, but when I googled it I got heaps of entries. It is, of course, a contraction of cremated remains.

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