Fruitful collaboration in new-world exhibition

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Sean Booth, ‘Tale of the Tape’, 2020. Photo: 5 Foot Photography

Craft / “Terra Celestial”, Artists-in-residence program 2019, Craft ACT: Craft + Design, craftact.org.au and social media platforms until May 9. Reviewed by MEREDITH HINCHLIFFE.

IN the new world in which we’re living, Craft ACT: Craft + Design has put its current exhibitions online.

The artists-in-residence program run by Craft ACT: Craft + Design in collaboration with ACT Parks and Conservation Service has been extraordinarily productive over the past 14 years. This year, five successful artists enthusiastically embraced the theme of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the landing on the moon.

Rohan Nicol and Sabine Pagan installation view.

Rohan Nicol and Sabine Pagan undertook “a parallel alter-mission”. They transformed the historical Ready-Cut Cottage in Namadgi National Park into their own SpaceCraft, piloted by alter-egos, Gudgenauts Jack and Jill. They celebrate, while gently parodying, space travel. Their space suits are on display, as are several artefacts they discovered.

Of course, all Gudgenauts need a dog tag, and the two artists created rather large versions in anodised aluminium. They are patterned with the moonscape of hills and depressions. You might find Pagan wearing one in another photo, though they are both wearing them in their space suits. Gudgenauts need to eat, though they don’t cook for themselves, and their Japanese meals were served on – reusable – aluminium “Bento Trays with Blunt Stix” in either ebony or pine. Videos, posters and other trappings continue the space flight.

Sean Booth, T’ale of the Tape,’ 2020.

Sean Booth, metal worker and jeweller, and Michelle Hallinan and Megan Watson, paper artists, also embraced the theme. Booth is showing several fibreglass tape measures he has folded and formed into shapes: curls, a cone, a figure of eight-shape, a container and a flower. They have been glued together to hold their shape, and are fun. Perhaps all dressmakers knew that one could play with the tapes to obtain such a variety of forms.

Booth is exhibiting a framed work, containing two pieces of embossed silver: “Chasing Eagles 1-2”. No. 1 shows an eagle soaring high in the sky. No. 2 shows a heavy footprint in dust. A box in anodised aluminium with a gently sloping silver lid that has also been decorated – perhaps the surface of the moon – is also on display.

Michelle Hallinan and Megan Watson,  ‘Remains Terra Celestial,’ 2020. Photo: Megan Watson

Hallinan and Watson work in paper. In keeping with the theme, three paper bowls with aluminium wire forming their aerials are displayed on a mirror, reflecting the lower, tessellated surface. They are also showing an elegant and finely made triangular fold book titled “Earthspace”. The surface patterning is intaglio and embossed and it fits perfectly into its leather pouch.

In many ways, the objects that result from a three-week period as an artist-in-residence are less important than the time itself. Artists lead busy lives and often the competing demands of life leave little time and energy for thinking and experimenting. A period of three weeks, walking in Namadgi, drawing, playing and experimenting with materials can be like a six-week holiday for an artist. Gudgenby is quite isolated, and mobile phone reception is limited. Each of the artists who have been fortunate enough to be in residence has found the experience very rewarding and in some cases, it has taken their career in a different direction.

It is to be hoped that this fruitful collaboration continues.

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