Helen Braun and Lenni Morkel-Kingsbury
Yarra Sculpture Gallery 14 October to 1 November, 2009
A group show in three parts, a collaborative show, or a show of two artists, this collected group of artworks serves itself as any or all of those propositions. Clearly presented as an entity of its own existence, ‘between’ is a body of honeyed and organic materials expressing captured manual labour whilst momentarily pinning down eddies for contemplation.
The collaborative piece, Parallel constellations (between you and me), is recognisable as a mapping of nodes. Visually the first tag to grasp for, even without recourse to its title, is stars – glass vials are adhered directly to the wall, their bases glued, their lids projected into the gallery space toward the viewer. These form a mass of dots across an expense wider than arms length, signaling both an energy larger than a person and a spatial existence possibly extending far beyond the gallery. Running between the vials are pathways of taut thread, connecting the vials and constructing a network, leading to speculation that the glass vials are nodal points.
Vials serve as containers, echoing notions of the node, and in this instance are carrying materials such as text on paper, dried flowers, feathers, and fishing hooks, marking them as harbourers of information and as archives. The thread running between the vials, channels.
The constellations, or networks, clearly divide into two sets. Parallel but also mirrored. The left cluster appears to ‘begin’ at the lower left, from a mirrored shelf, whilst the right cluster could be ‘ending’ at the lower right, on an identical mirror shelf. This transference from the vertical mapping to the horizontal origin and endpoint, lends the work a tension that induces an oscillation of perspective for the viewer. A theme that exists also in the second collaborative work, From the centre (contemplate, co-create).
Spiralling on the floor like the captured pathway of a whirling current of liquid or gas, small florets of beeswax also emit their subtle fragrance. At the apex of the largest spiral, three open vials of honey ascend into the air. Again, the interplay of the vertical and horizontal planes imbues the work with a sense of rich spatial dimensionality. The beginning of the spiralling shape suggests it continues indefinitely, and the ascension of the vials of honey, with the volume of honey in each vial increasing as it ascends, also suggesting continued growth.
Lenni Morkel-Kingsbury’s Esto perpetua (once upon a time stood still…) consists of an old chair, prostrate as if on bended knees, before an opened, blank book. The chair and the book both wrapped in white thread, cobwebbed. Absence, lost histories and the archival property of materials are themes emanating from its lonely position in the corner of the gallery.
Helen Braun’s Terra firmament (between earth and sky) by contrast, proclaims its spatial dominion, a wave of wax paper weaving its way across the space above head height. Below it, on the ground, a pathway of rolled paper wax sticks as its reflected shadow. Temporality, as reflection and oscillation, appearing wrought into the delicacy of the material.