Review / Exhibition touches ‘hearts and minds’

craft / “Hearts and Minds”, Canberra Glassworks, 11 Wentworth Avenue, Kingston until March 25. Reviewed by MEREDITH HINCHLIFFE.

HARRIET Schwarzrock is showing 60 small heart forms in jewel-like colours arranged as an interactive installation over the long wall in the gallery at the Canberra Glassworks. Viewers are encouraged to touch the works in the installation, which is titled “between stillness and movement”. 

“Hurt Locker”, by Penny Byrne, 2015

The exhibit explores notions of interconnectivity and embodies electrical impulses, all terms and ideas redolent with the line between hearts and minds.

‘Pulse Red’ by Harriet Schwarzrock. Photo courtesy of Suki & Hugh Bungendore

The forms are hollow and trap neon gas, some with low pressure and others with higher pressure. By gently touching the glass, the viewer can change the depth of colour and the pace of electrical activity within the hearts. Those with higher pressure give a more excited spark than the soft and slow glow in those with the lower pressure.

Schwarzrock is the current Canberra Glassworks Art Group Creative Fellow. She spent the six months of her fellowship expanding her technical expertise both in the hot glass studio and with neon tube bending, skills which enabled her to create a complex installation.

In a collaborative work with sound artist Brian McNamara, four hearts are enclosed in open-ended boxes and when touched these create a direct, visible and audible interaction. The sounds and visual effects interact to become one experience.

In the Smokestack Gallery, Penny Byrne is exhibiting “Hurt Locker”, a slightly bigger than life steel armoured figure, which encases Murano glass. Byrne is better known for her repurposing or reimagining fine china figurines to “balance the biting with the blasé”.

I am unconvinced that “Hurt Locker” does this and was disappointed that the violet glass was not highlighted more, so that the figure glowed. However, it is certainly imposing.

Schwarzrock has been making heart forms for many years and the use of electrical technology and neon takes them to a new level.

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