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Architecture and Beyond












Architecture and Beyond
Incinerator Art Space
Willhoughby, Sydney
25 May – 12 June 2022


Exhibition Statement

Incinerator Art Space is located in the refurbished shell of one of the two remaining obsolete incinerators in Sydney designed by Walter Burley Griffin. Nearby is Castlecrag, a suburb designed, and a community lived in by Marion Mahony and Walter Burley Griffin. ‘Architecture and beyond’ inverts the title of the 1998 Powerhouse Museum exhibition ‘Beyond Architecture: Marion Mahony and Walter Burley Griffin, signalling an opportunity to look beyond the built environment. This exhibition playfully explores the enduring impact of the Griffins and more broadly, of Modernist architecture through the discourse of contemporary visual arts. The artworks will explore perceptions of interior and exterior spaces within the Incinerator and other Griffin-designed sites. A range of two and three-dimensional works have been produced for the space and the contributing artists have focused on selected aspects of the Griffins influence in terms of issues and challenges specific to our times.


Artist Statement – Nicola McClelland


The Arboretum in Canberra with its 100 forests was the initial inspiration for this series; the tree species were selected for their conservation status, symbolic nature and aesthetic value. The site acknowledges the Griffins’ original plan for an arboretum beside Lake Burley Griffin. Marion Mahony saw the Canberra landscape as a natural amphitheatre; it reminded her of the seven hills that surround Rome. This is where I spent my foundational years, vicariously experiencing the Griffins’ plans to synthesise architecture and the living landscape. As I take in the vista of the city, the sensation is visceral and I imagine the landscape evolving into the future. Nature and architecture intersect in this series. Marion Mahony’s materials, watercolour, gouache and palette of colours, are used with water from Lake Burley Griffin and elements of the Griffins’ plans for Canberra and Lucknow, India. The final works are responses to nature in the place I currently live – the land of the Latji Latji people in the Mallee. I carry an essence of the Griffins’ philosophy through the series and into the works that are abstracted responses to light, colour and form.

Prior to the last two extraordinary years, Nicola’s work was predominately three-dimensional. She has gravitated to painting and colour; a change amplified by her relocation to the Murray River in the Victorian Mallee. “On some days the environment feels filled purely with colour and light.” Nicola studied at Central Saint Martins, London (BA Hons) and the VCA, Melbourne (Masters). Her work was included in the Tate Exchange Liverpool (UK), a fringe event to the Venice Biennale, the Alice Prize, the Hutchins Prize, and two Incinerator Awards in Melbourne. She won the Emerging Artist Award in the Darebin/ La Trobe University Art Prize, Melbourne. Her work is in the La Trobe University Collection, and private and corporate collections in England, Italy, New Zealand and Australia. She has exhibited annually in Sydney over the last five years.


Excerpt from The View from in Here – essay by Lisa Pang

“On some days the environment feels filled purely with colour and light.”

It is fitting, given the Griffins’ ideas about architecture’s subservience to natural landscape, Marion’s careful documentation and knowledge of native plant life, and the concept of revival, that the exhibition opens into a forest, the dreamed of Arboretum Arboreta. This series including gouache and watercolour on paper works by Nicola McClelland is inspired by the National Arboretum and is a familiar site for her having spent her foundational years in Canberra. An arboretum, a botanic garden of trees situated on the lake edge was originally a part of the capitol plan however remained an unrealised concept until the aftermath of the 2003 bushfires finally presented an opportunity. Another competition saw another architectural plan for 100 monoculture forests of rare, threatened and symbolic trees, planted almost a century after Griffin first envisioned it. Nicola’s paintings are a riotous celebration of plant forms as they fuse with, overgrow or are contained by a scaffold of geometric forms (drawn from elements of the Griffins’ Canberra and Lucknow plans) in a composition of balance. The water-based materials are activated by water from Lake Burley-Griffin and together with the muted and specific colour palette utilised by Marion, work to provide tangible and visual links to site, people, place and time.

Architecture and Beyond Exhibition Catalogue

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