Friday 14 May 2010

Sites and Signals

Here is the first of two catalogue essays accompanying Dell Stewart & Andrea Eckersley's current exhibition Triangle in Gallery 2.

Triangle is on until 12 June.

Sites and Signals

Dress by Andrea Eckersley

Imagine you are in a forest clearing, where the only sign of civilisation is the faint track left by a long ago car doing donuts in the mud. The sun creates spots of light on the ground and friendly neon hand knitted snakes lie patiently at your feet. You sling one on as a scarf over your faux wood grain shift dress. A campfire smolders slowly in the corner and the smell of charcoal hangs in the smoke-skinned air. You’ve been out here alone for five days and you’re happy, there’s no reason to go back, but a voice tells you that you must.

You find cotton screen-printed flags and criss-cross them. These are not signals of distress; they are markers, used to safely convey visitors through your world and protect you from harm. They belong to a heritage of homemade craft technique passed down through the generations. The neon coral intensity suggests that earthy tones of brown and soft beige may not be enough in themselves. There may indeed be such a thing as too much brown.

Perhaps you crave fruit bowls, the electricity grid, footpaths that hiss clouds of smoke, conversations with a woman who wears a shade of lipstick called flamenco moon. You think about your plants in their ceramic loglike pots back home, surrounded by endless plains of impervious concrete, and wonder what the simulacrum would look like out here amongst nature. Is their smell more distilled, more heightened, in the city? Would they be overwhelmed by the immensity of vegetation here? If they were left to their own devices they might walk
off during the night and never return – a strategy for survival in a world that requires living forms to constantly evolve.

Your clothes hang breezily on the makeshift line. The simple tunic dress whose orchids resemble underwater anemones . Burnished gold triangles undistortable as the pyramids of Giza. The way the design leverages geometrical shapes draws the eye in and reminds one of things both ancient and futuristic – arrow heads, snake scales, black triangles flying silently overhead on their way to a parallel world. You expand a pleated silk black scarf into a frill-necked collar, its flash of gold a python’s tooth gleaming in the darkness.

Time to rest awhile. That wood grain quilted picnic blanket is surely up to the task of making your tired body feel like a warm waffle. The ceramic teapot is imperfectly hand hewn, but the tea that is poured from it somehow tastes purer as a result. Its qualities of groundedness and generosity spill over into the life of those things around it. The milk jug also contains moments of private reverie. These handmade creations possess an intimacy and richness that machines can’t comprehend.

Alternate realities lie beyond deceptively simple designs. Interpretation has the capacity to be infinite, like white light refracting through a prism. You turn and see the duck egg blue triangular horizons of Andrea’s painting and the origami mysteries of her kimono confections. You’re reminded how the triangle was formed and its boundaries seem limitless. Everything here is embedded with a sense of process and purpose. Fine art becomes fashion and fashion becomes fine art once more.

You hear footsteps crunching over leaves and voices through the trees. The view outside the window of Craft Victoria reminds you where you are in time and space. Geometry may not be for everyone but there’s something special about Triangle.

Anna Sutton

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