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Dwelling in the Journey






Linden Gallery
Melbourne, Australia
Steel wool and mixed media

In the exhibition Dwelling in the Journey vessels (boats/nests/baskets/heads of hair) made of steel wool ascend the walls. The material could be wire, hair, wool or cobweb. Steel wool is a material that has little value; it is often used once and then discarded. Its wiry qualities make it difficult and abrasive to work with. The resulting vessels have a made-at-home, low-tech and ‘primitive’ quality.

The effigies are also made from steel wool but have been pounded into gingerbread biscuit cutters and forced to form a shape. This incredibly repetitive, circular process is reflective of domestic labour. The evidence of the toil evaporates, disintegrates or is consumed. Pounding, knitting, plaiting, spinning, weaving and scrubbing with steel wool is a process that requires one to stand or sit in one place and be transported to former lives and places. It becomes a dreaming of a homeland, an imaginary space that perhaps never existed, a redeeming of absence over the kitchen sink.

Steel wool is not initially associated with the ephemeral, but is worked in a way that is paradoxical. It is spun and pounded, immersed in water, rusted and heaped with salt. Set adrift the spun vessels and effigies are initially buoyant. However, their reaction with water is dramatic and they change radically, rusting and disintegrating, leaving merely traces of where they have been. Submerging the objects in water and then covering them with salt, they dry rusty and brittle. In this state they are no longer malleable and fragility is created.