Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2024

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Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2024

Art Gallery of New South Wales recently announced the finalists of this year’s Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes – three of this country’s most closely watched cultural accolades – and we are thrilled to share the news that two artists from the Michael Reid Sydney + Berlin stable have been selected for the class of 2024.

Fresh from the announcement of our representation of Megan Hales, the Eora/Sydney artist has been named a finalist in the Sir John Sulman Prize for her dazzlingly cinematic, staggering hyperreal nocturne Long Night.

Joining Hales at the Art Gallery of New South Wales is Naarm/Melbourne artist Juan Ford, whose extraordinary painting At the peak has been shortlisted for the Wynne Prize. This is Ford’s fifth nomination for the prestigious award, and the news arrives just as we gear up for a special release of new works by the artist – his first since joining the gallery’s stable last year.

Selected from close to 3000 submissions across the three prizes, the artists’ shortlisted works – Long Night and At the peak – are now available to acquire from Michael Reid Sydney and will be on view at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman exhibition from next Saturday, 8 June, to Sunday, 8 September.

Deme Ngayi Napa Pupunyi – I made these mats with my hands

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Deme Ngayi Napa Pupunyi – I made these mats with my hands

  • Artist
    Regina Pilawuk Wilson
  • Dates
    6 Jun—6 Jul 2024
  • Catalogue
    Download now
  • Gallery Location
    Eora / Sydney

Ever since Regina Pilawuk Wilson’s golden yellow Syaw (fishnet) won the General Painting Award at the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards in 2003, her elegantly structured paintings have quietly but unequivocally fixed her name on the contemporary art map.

Regina Pilawuk Wilson is now Australia’s most senior contemporary female First Nations artist, and is one at the height of her creative powers. Wilson is the matriarch of her community and is a softly spoken, major force in the Australian art world today.

Michael Reid Sydney + Berlin is honoured to work with Regina Wilson and her Community, which has for two decades produced significant and bright creative outcomes.

Deme ngayi ngebenderridu tyabuty ngayi nimbi apirri nimbi demewurity yedi syaw, danifityatit dirrperderr e kuderri e Elifala kana Kagu dininganmadi waniwirrfimeleli Kagu wukume nyinda wadi leli. Ngenikeh ngayi mengindi yemewurity kana ngan caliku dide, deme tyabuty nayin nimbi deme wurity yedi apirri nimbi. Ngayi kana ngarimpek ngaganim tyabuty ngayi nimbi syaw demewurity yedi, nyinimbi deme nyinin ngarifityat pupunyi kana, deme ngayi ngarifityat syaw, pupunyi ngeremwurity ngaganim. Deme ngayi napa deti. Ngangi tyamen napa minde ngangi awa yeyi wirrim.

My grandfather, before European contact, used to make lots of fish traps to put in the rivers and billabongs to catch fish, turtle and prawns. My sister said for me to put the design onto the canvas so I can tell the story about what our grandfather used to do and the syaw and pupunyi, now the story is owned by me through painting and weaving. To share the story to the western world, wakai.

-Regina Pilawuk Wilson, 2024

For assistance with an acquisition please contact tobymeagher@michaelreid.com.au

Megan Hales – Artist Profile

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Megan Hales is an Eora/Sydney-based artist who has refined her extraordinary skills over ten years as a painter, muralist and fabricator. Exploring the ever-tightening nexus between natural and human environments, Megan’s paintings are inspired by everyday chaos, presenting moments where nature intrudes on familiar urban scenarios. With an incredibly detailed hyper-realist approach – infused with hints of the carnivalesque and nods to Australian New Wave films – her cinematic paintings are thrilling to experience.

Hales first exhibited in our annual curated group survey Painting Now 2023 followed by launching our 2024 calendar with her first solo exhibition Space Invaders. Here, to mark the announcement of her representation with Michael Reid Sydney & Berlin we visit her Sydney studio and discuss the inspirations and creative processes that propel her practice.

For more information about works of art by Megan Hales, please email dean@michaelreid.com.au

Could you tell us about your process? 

There are three parts. The first is the brainstorming, which comes to me instinctively. I keep lists on my phone and if I’m still excited about an idea weeks later I know it’s good enough to paint. The next (hard) part is working out how to make an abstract vision sing in a rectangle composition. I start figuring out lighting, perspective and scale in digital sketches with heaps of reference images and photo shoots, which all get ripped apart and put back together in paint. I’ve previously done sculptural and multimedia work but I’m now committed to canvas, as a simple framework that makes literally anything I can think of possible to realise as an image. And I still feel like a sculptor because I’m thinking about the physicality of subject matter and how it would sit in the scene I am creating. The third part is painting, my all consuming happy place. I spend as much time as I can in my studio working on several pieces at once.

Your work has a cinematic quality and can appear hyperreal. How and why did you arrive at this style and approach?

A smooth surface feels both genuine and magic to me and there are so many different things that happen in a piece. Like pushing and pulling of details by blurring and hardening lines to create focal points, working on red grounds for deep dark spaces and straight onto white grounds with translucent pigments for glowing light. And intuitive balancing acts of shadow and sheen, earthy and artificial colours, patterns and disorder. All of which are built up in three layers usually, with all sorts of brushes and movements.

I think the cinematic quality is teased out in a few ways, but mostly by exaggerating perspective, colour, proportion and lighting. Conceptually I like each painting to have a unique narrative proposition, a distilled suggestion of drama in which tragedy is met with comic gesture. I particularly enjoy films and books that cross genres – tragedies delivered as comedies, romantic horrors and psychological thrillers as adventure epics in the landscape. A 1978 Australian film that covers all of these while striking a chord with what I had in mind for my recent show Space Invaders is Long Weekend written by Everett De Roche. I hope for my work to increasingly hold such scope.

Tell us more about your recent show Space Invaders, and also your first works shown with the gallery, in Painting Now 2023.

The pieces in Space Invaders are about shared living arrangements between people, their bits and bobs that culminate under one roof and the critters and elements that seep in through the cracks. I love how in the seconds you clock a gecko on the edge, a turbo fly at bedtime or an electrical device at boiling point, the world on the periphery disappears. If this is the outward narrative of the work, it is interrupting an inward one – home being a place where we fester with our thoughts and psychologies. These make their way into all my work simultaneously – in Tug of Love, for instance, where a stress-yawning dog is implicated in a troubled relationship.

These pieces are toasty and small with tight compositions because that’s how home sits with me – cosy and claustrophobic. And the title, Space Invaders, simply plays on boundaries, both inside a home and of a home environmentally, while triggering the nostalgia so many of us associate with these places. My works exhibited in Painting Now, on the other hand, are honing out – to the porch, carpark, pub and local fish ‘n’ chip shop.

These works are bigger but the small details are crucial. I see smears and scratches as delightful proof of life, especially alongside commercial graphics blotted through our fields of vision. Zooming out to the big picture I’m looking for something iconic and openly familiar, though the seeds are usually autobiographical. For instance, my pair of paintings Happy Hour and Blind Date were spurred on by time spent on the South Coast, where my mum lives and my dad used to fish. The coaster in Happy Hour is a  reference to the Tomakin club. And Blind Date takes from a visit to the Tomakin servo, where my brother saved a Huntsman spider from the perils of a trailered boat, tragically named in vinyl ‘Wasted Seaman’.

What does the rest of 2024 have in store? 

I have a few things in the works that I’m really excited about. One of which is another show upstairs at Michael Reid Sydney late this year. For this I’m tempted by the concept of “the servo” as an institution we all visit, and a visually absurd subject on the border between the landscape and infrastructure. Looking forward to sharing as things develop.

Ernabella Arts

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Ernabella Arts

  • Artist
    Ernabella Arts
  • Dates
    24 May—23 Jun 2024
  • Gallery Location
    Berlin

In 1948, a craft room was established in Pukatja Community, at the eastern end of the Musgrave Ranges in South Australia for the Anangu women to hand spin sheep’s wool and loom it into floor rugs and wall weavings,

This storied history makes Ernabella Arts the oldest, continuously running Indigenous Art Centre in Australia.

We are honoured to present online an exhibition of works by Vivian Thompson, Langaliki Lewis, Marissa Thompson, Elizabeth Dunn, Janelle Thompson, Lynette Lewis, Sonia Lewis and Melissa Lewis.

Get in touch: colinesoria@michaelreid.com.au

Skull Kicks

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Skull Kicks

Michael Reid Sydney is thrilled to present Skull Kicks by Marc Etherington – a capsule collection of 12 blazing new wall sculptures that play to the passions of art lovers and sneakerheads alike.

Dropping Friday, 26 April, Skull Kicks immortalises a collector’s dream wardrobe of classic, cult and covetable sneakers, each one perfectly in step with Etherington’s painterly signatures and fashioned by hand in three-dimensional relief.

The acclaimed artist and six-time Archibald finalist is known for his idiosyncratic style, which sees subcultural touchstones, childhood memories and scenes of everyday domestic life play out with dark wit and a touch of absurdity. Nods to Jurassic Park, Freddy Krueger, boomboxes and old-school video game aesthetics tap into the experience of coming of age in the 1980s and 90s.

His latest crate dive through fan culture, pop-esoterica and obscure objects of desire reflects an affinity for merch, memorabilia and physical media – the material whirl that was wallpaper for a generation on the cusp of the internet and which now fires the nostalgia of obsessive collectors and online custodians of a pre-digital pop sphere.

Where once they were commercially produced, these objects are now recreated by hand, with Etherington individually forming each shoe’s distinctive silhouette with hand-cut and -painted board. The artist’s method matches the reverence with which sneakerheads might eye and covet these artefacts of the not-so-distant past while paying tribute to an array of vibrant designs and the subcultural scenes they signify.

Etherinton’s sneaker canon includes classics such as the Nike Air Force Ones and Converse All-Stars, as well as some exceptionally rare examples from sneakerhead lore: the “Freddy Krueger” Nike Dunk Lows, the cult Assassins (featured in season two of The Simpsons) and the Nike MAG, which debuted in 1989’s Back to the Future II and was instantly one of the most coveted – but unavailable – shoes in history.

All works from the series will be available to explore and acquire from Michael Reid Sydney in an online exclusive launching Friday, 26 April. And if your ultimate sneaker isn’t already enshrined in Etherington’s pantheon, hit the button below and let us know what your custom Skull Kicks design would be.

For more, please email dean@michaelreid.com.au

Favourite Brand of Sneaker

"*" indicates required fields

DESIGN YOUR CUSTOM MARC ETHERINGTON SNEAKER

eg. Nike, Adidas, NB, Vans.
eg. Air Force 1, Stan Smith, 574, Old Skool.
eg. pick 1 to 3 colours.

Favourite Brand of Sneaker

"*" indicates required fields

DESIGN YOUR CUSTOM MARC ETHERINGTON SNEAKER

eg. Nike, Adidas, NB, Vans.
eg. Air Force 1, Stan Smith, 574, Old Skool.
eg. pick 1 to 3 colours.

Favourite Brand of Sneaker

"*" indicates required fields

DESIGN YOUR CUSTOM MARC ETHERINGTON SNEAKER

eg. Nike, Adidas, NB, Vans.
eg. Air Force 1, Stan Smith, 574, Old Skool.
eg. pick 1 to 3 colours.

Figurations

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Figurations

The first solo exhibition from Troy Emery since joining our stable of represented artists, Figurations transforms our upstairs exhibition space with a cast of wild and magnificent creatures dazzlingly sculpted with a couturier’s precision and imaginative flourish.

Fringed and fabulous in languorous repose, Emery’s impossible fauna reflects an enduring fascination with nature. Drawing on art history, science, decorative crafts and camp sensibilities, the artist explores complex entanglements of human and non-human worlds.

Figurations follows the recent announcement of Emery’s major commission, Guardian Lion, which will see him produce a spectacular, kaleidoscopic, illuminated sculptural landmark soaring high above Melbourne’s Southbank and serving as a bold visual gateway to the city.

For preview and acquisition enquiries, please contact dean@michaelreid.com.au

Hoppé’s Australia: Photographs from the Oroton Collection

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Hoppé’s Australia: Photographs from the Oroton Collection

  • Artist
    E. O. Hoppé
  • Dates
    18—27 Apr 2024
  • Gallery Location
    Eora / Sydney

E O Hoppé (1878-1972): portrait, travel, and topographic photographer

When Emil Otto Hoppé arrived in Australia from London in 1930, the German-born photographer was at the height of his powers. Hoppé was widely considered to be the most famous photographer in the world. The dapper Hoppé, who was fond of wearing spats, cravats and sported a mane of luxuriant black hair, epitomised the celebrity portrait photographer, snapping such luminaries as George Bernard Shaw, Rudyard Kipling, Albert Einstein, Anna Pavlova, Vaslav Nijinsky and Virginia Woolf. Hoppé was in addition, a gifted observational photographer.

Commissioned in 1929 to create a photographic portrait of Australia, Hoppé approached the project with a thoroughness that still shines through. For a moment, let us consider Hoppé’s presence here. The seemingly simple act of traveling to Australia, and around this country in 1930, was not a matter to be taken lightly. The time, considerable expense, and project management of the commission in that day can be viewed in stark contrast to today’s contemporary artists, their abilities to move relatively freely, and the modesty of contemporary costs. Hoppé coming to Australia was a serious matter. Assisted by his 18-year-old son, Frank, the 52-year-old Hoppe seemed as drawn to inland Australia as to its coastal cities, and his photographs of remote First Nations peoples and their communities provide unvarnished portraits of their life almost 100 years ago.

Cecil Beaton, the British fashion, portraitist and war photographer – who studied Hoppé from first to last – called him “the Master”, and anyone might learn a great deal from his photographs. Indeed, learning was a central tenant to Hoppé’s approach. There are no preconceptions, you feel, controlling Hoppé’ s portraits: each sitter is someone to discover from the start, someone to converse with, to try to comprehend. Hoppé wanted the photographic technicalities to be as simple as possible, he said, so he could focus on his rapport with the sitter. He didn’t vanish the subject under metres of black stage cloth or bathe them in trick-up indoor lighting. Hoppé sat as close to his subject as possible, with a camera cable release, so the shutter could be operated unobtrusively. No fuss, and as little intervention as possible.

Within this evocative selection of photographs, from a most extraordinary private archive, we see Hoppé’s vintage print of three Aboriginal women dressed in European clothes studying a film poster at Hermannsburg Mission. This print captures the incongruity of life for many First Nations people in 1930; dressed for a new world; considering its popular culture from a palpable distance. Then we have photographs of traditionally dressed men, devoid of social judgment, or the early tendency to exoticise. We also see traditional men painted for ceremony, but instead playing football. A joyous performance; but not for the camera. Hoppé’s unsentimental humanity is a unifying theme in this exhibition.

Hoppé had an eye for the unconsidered. His print of a surfer, from 1930 ranks as one of only a handful of early images taken of that pastime in its early days. For a German living in London, to see a man on a plank on a wave must have been an extraordinary thing. There is much to see here. And consider. Hoppé’s brief, influential presence in Australia adds an important chapter to the history of our nation. It is not recorded whether a talented 19-year-old apprentice in Cecil Bostock’s Sydney studio named Max Dupain ever met the energetic German from London, but Dupain’s rapid mastery of modern photography might suggest he did so or at least, knew of Hoppé’s work.

Art Museum Collections
National Portrait Gallery (London)
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris
National Media Museum, Bradford
George Eastman House at Rochester
Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin (Gernsheim
Collection)
New York Public Library
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C.

© E.O. Hoppé Estate Collection/Curatorial Inc.

 

Gerwyn Davies – Artist Profile

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Showing at South East Centre for Contemporary Art (SECCA) until Wednesday, 3 April, Glisten is a glittering career survey for Sydney artist Gerwyn Davies. Conjuring characters through costumes fashioned with readymade and everyday materials that conceal, transform and abstract the body, the artist’s stylised transformations produce an ongoing inventory of photographic self-projections. Here, to mark his major museum show, we visit Davies in his Sydney studio and discuss the inspirations and creative processes that propel his celebrated practice.

To discuss acquisitions, available work and upcoming projects by Gerwyn Davies, please contact dean@michaelreid.com.au

What were your early creative influences?

If I’m being honest, my earliest influence was encountering the creative works of Tonia Todman on 90s daytime television. As a child, I was transfixed by Tonia’s capacity to transform even the most mundane object into something elaborate and new through the magical power of craft. There is a particularly mesmerising episode in which she decoupages a set of rocks into festive ornaments.

I know it sounds like I’m being facetious, but the idea of taking very ordinary materials, toying with them, teasing them, stretching them out and hot-glue-gunning if need be to create something playfully transformed has many similarities with my approach. Not being hemmed in by the form or intended purpose of an object or material but instead considering its potential … it’s a fun challenge to problem-solve your way through.

When I began working with costuming, I had no idea what I was doing. I had no formal training and I used a lot of trial and error to find my way through constructing something wearable. While frustrating and expensive, being self-taught is wonderful as it encourages you to adopt a more improvisational and canny approach. You break lots of rules as you aren’t aware of them.

Initially, I worked with materials from dollar stores and experimented with ways I could dissect, bend, stretch and shape them together to cover my body – like a decoupaged rock for your Christmas tree. Other influences tend to be less photographic and more from the realm of fashion. Designers such as Alexander McQueen, Viktor&Rolf and Gareth Pugh would begin with the mundane form of the body and turn it into something magical and sculptural and new.

What is the relationship between costume design and photography in your practice? 

When I first started making photographic work, it was very informal. I lived in a sharehouse where we spent Friday nights devouring cheap white wine and dressing up as characters. We would take turns operating the camera, running lighting (gathering all the bedside lamps and torches and modifying them), dressing up and modelling for the camera. It was a social, dynamic, playful approach that was really seductive to me and, from that, I decided I wanted to learn more about photography and studied at the Queensland College of Art.

I was never interested in taking pretty pictures of the real world but was enthralled by photography’s capacity to conjure fantasy. My earliest photographic works involved the construction of small dioramas by running paper through a sewing machine and using thread like a pen to give shape and detail. What I loved was the challenge of taking ordinary material like paper and finding a way to manipulate it, transform it and ideally suspend the moment of recognition. These dioramas lead to larger sculptural works, likewise with the emphasis on materiality and with the camera serving to document. The sculptural forms were then tacked onto the body.

The foundation I return to is my figure. Regardless of the material I’m working with, everything begins at the starting block of concealing the body, transforming its boundaries, extending it out in unusual ways and transforming myself into a kind of sculptural ‘other’. Another recurring element is the use of vibrant, animated materials: sequins, glitters, things that shimmer, shine, come alive under light and sing out to the viewer through the photograph. When I’m sourcing materials, I’m always drawn to tawdry, synthetic and shiny surfaces.

What is your relationship to the central ‘character’ in your work? 

When producing costumes, I’m not thinking of comfort or ease of movement but, rather, about creating the most dramatic, photogenic forms I can. As a result, the costumes are profoundly uncomfortable and hideously hot. They end up restricting rather than facilitating movement. I construct the costumes on a mannequin and rarely try them on before it’s time to photograph myself, so stepping into costume for the first time and appearing before the camera is a very real moment of transformation.

For the most part, I can’t see through the costume and I’m shuffling around trying to establish myself while the camera has already begun firing off shot after shot after shot. It always takes a moment to get my bearings and adjust to my body’s new coordinates – and then, that embodied performance really begins. I start to understand the new ways my body can and can’t move, and a kind of characterisation forms out of this.

In this way, the costume begins to dictate and define a character rather than this being something premeditated. As with the materiality, there is this very informal, improvisational, playful approach. After a period of panic, claustrophobia and overheating, I can start to enjoy moving around in this new skin. As the materials are so visually elaborate, I often find my first response to wearing the costumes is a feeling of real sexiness. Likewise, owing to their often large scale, there is a sense of grandeur and power.

If I were to think about performance traditions, I feel the work is far more indebted to the hammy canon of camp cinema and television – more akin to Dynasty and Sunset Boulevard than to the more earnest moments of performance art history. My performance ethos is more-is-more, an uncontainable camp excess which, to a degree, is what these costumes and photographic works require. Because the dimensions of the body are disguised and all facial gestures removed, I find I have to extend myself out and overact in elaborate ways for the character’s intentions to be realised in the photograph. Of course, like all good baby queers, my world was shifted upon encountering Leigh Bowery, and this remains an influence, particularly thinking about the way his body operated under such restrictive conditions.

I see the characters as completely distinct from me and that happens the moment I step into costume. It is a process of becoming ‘other’ – an erasure of the self as I disappear into costume and am consumed by material forms. When I look at the body of work as a whole, it is a single recurring character just appearing in different guises. The recurrence of tattoos and particular footwear reinforces that. There are small variations that come from the memory of making the works. If a costume is easy to produce, sympathetic to being manipulated and not horrendously uncomfortable, if the shoot is seamless and the temperature is not blisteringly hot, I remember the character more fondly. I have an affection for that work over others, like a favourite child.

How do you select the locations and what role does the environment play?

The landscapes vary between bodies of work. Sometimes I begin with a real-world environment, produce a costume that responds directly and shoot in situ. Other times, I begin with a costume and seek out a landscape that will accommodate or house it perfectly. Sometimes I shoot in a studio, constructing basic sets before stepping into the frame. Or the landscape is pure photographic fiction, a digital amalgamation of multiple sites shot and brought together through postproduction. Something I’m drawn to in all these approaches is landscapes or environments that are graphic and highly constructed with a degree of flatness. I am drawn to the architectural and artificial as it resonates with my approach to costuming. It is important that there is cohesion between the character and environment, whether via narrative or physical forms. I like to create digital habitats for the characters to be housed within, sealed inside image-worlds unto themselves.

As with the materials, I am drawn to the synthetic potential of photography. Often, even when shooting in situ, I will use postproduction to remove details from the image so that it takes on a strange, plastic, alien quality. The colours are a little too rich, the surfaces a little too slippery and the image manicured in a way that is not overt but definitely disconcerting. I may lightly skew the perspective of the landscape so the world inside the image takes on a confounding lack of depth. It helps build a world for the characters.

Is there a thread running through the works comprising Glisten at SECCA?

The works are drawn from a range of bodies of work – about half from the series Mustang, which was produced in 2022 and 2023 and is more cinematic in approach. These were intended as a sequence of 16 x 9 film stills – small vignettes plucked from a single, imaginary queer blockbuster. In each, a central character is adorned in distinctive costumes and acts out Hollywood tropes – car chases, cowboys, alien abductions. Performed by a single elaborate and ornamented hero, the scenes are designed to be interchangeable, so the narrative is not linear and the irresolvable storyline can be rearranged in its display. This work is indebted to late-70s Cindy Sherman, albeit reimagined by a faceless, tattooed, glistening queer figure.

The other works in Glisten are shot in the studio with an emphasis on the sculptural potential of costumes and figures. Simple monochromatic sets are produced for the figure to sit within. These works tease out the queer confusion of subject and object, still life and representation, sculpture and figure. This is at its most extreme in a series of busts in which the figure is cut off at the waist and mounted on a faux marble plinth.

While Mustang‘s narrative focus contrasts with the stripped-back studio works, materiality and sculptural forms – and my interest in playing with conventions of photography ‘portraiture’ – remain essential threads across all these works. Instead of revealing the subject to the viewer, I am creating works in which I dis/appear from view, both queerly there and nowhere to be seen, hiding in plain sight.

What other projects are you looking forward to in the coming year?

At the moment, I am completing a new body of work that began with a trip to southern Arizona in 2023. While the series comprises a set of performative photographic images, I am also exploring ways to give the costumes a life beyond the image. The use of materials is so central to my work; the sourcing, manipulating, constructing and wearing of costumes is 90 per cent of the process. It’s very labour-intensive, meditative, and equal parts frustrating and satisfying. But ultimately, that is kept buried inside the image and never encountered outside the studio.

What am I exploring is deconstructing these costumes after they have been shot, before re-combining the materials to construct something entirely new. At the moment, this is taking the form of landscapes and signs rendered in textiles. This extension of the process of constructing and deconstructing works has returned me to where my photographic journey began with the sewing of diorama environments and the use of thread as a drawing device. It’s rewarding for me to introduce the tactile and tangible quality of my studio process into the final works and uncover new ways of manipulating the materials that are so enticing and engaging.

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