27th October to 3rd December 2017 at Bunbury Regional Art Gallery
Estuarine 2 (detail) 2017; mixed media on watercolour paper; 1200 x 1500
Fundamentally Unstable is an ongoing project of artworks developed in response to contaminated sites. Fundamentally unstable (3 sites) is an installation of small sculptural objects and wall works developed during 2016 and 2017 in response to the exploration of three sites where soil has been contaminated through industrial processes. One of these sites is Koombana Bay in Bunbury; stockpiled tailings from mineral sands mining has contaminated soil along a road reserve next to the bay, resulting in elevated levels of gamma radiation. The other two sites are near the Midland Railway Workshops and proximate to land undergoing rehabilitation as a former CSBP agricultural chemical production and storage site in Ashfield. The Ashfield works were developed during a residency at the Another Art Space ARI in April-June 2017.
Installation (detail) foreground: Fundamentally Unstable 3; 2016/17; Concrete, metal, bamboo, PU foam, paint 350 x 350 x 200 mm
Ashfield Super 1; 2017; concrete with site specific soil, PU foam, paint 1200 x 500 x 200 mm
Installation (detail) foreground: Fundamentally Unstable 6; 2016/17; Concrete with site specific soil, found object, paint 300 x 200 x 200 mm and Fundamentally Unstable 7; 2016/17; Concrete with site specific soil, metal, found object, paint 280 x 240 x 150 mm
Installation detail: foreground Fundamentally Unstable 10; 2016/17; concrete with site specific soil, wood, PU foam, paint. 900 x 250 x 250
Installation detail foreground: Fundamentally Unstable 4; 2016/17; Concrete with site specific soil, metal, wood, PU foam, found object, paint 800 x 120 x 120 mm and Fundamentally Unstable 5; 2016/17; Concrete with site specific soil, metal, wood, brickies line, found object, paint 600 x 700 x 120 mm
Natura Morte -33.321335, 115.645291 Koombana Bay; 2017; concrete with site specific soil, titanium dioxide paint, lead, metal brackets 400 x 800 x 200 mm
Estuarine 2; 2017; mixed media on watercolour paper 1200 x 1500 mm
Estuarine 1; 2016/17; concrete, site specific soil, PU foam, paint, metal brackets 400 x 400 x 150 mm
Estuarine 3, 4, 5; 2017; mixed media on watercolour paper 300 x 210 mm ea
The artworks themselves consist of a series of small concrete based objects and assemblages which give a passing nod to the culture and materiality of industry. Teetering awkwardly, absurd stacks play with ideas of balance and material failures: cracking, then patched, as clays introduce fragility; slumping and dispersing to accommodate seemingly floating objects; sagging and bloating bodily inside cardboard boxes; accumulating fragments to form an uncomfortable whole. The works playfully subvert our preconceptions about concrete as a monumental, stable and ubiquitous construction material, so often used to encase contaminants over a long period of time.
Materials choices are accessible and, with found objects and bursts of industrial colour, reinforce concepts around balance, stability, gravity, containment, intrusion and control. The use of site specific soils, site specific waste and the process of layering, act to document a site and highlights the insecurity of permanence and place. A handmade, makeshift aesthetic contradicts industrial form, scale and surface predictability.
The works display an evident love of materiality and are humourous, lighthearted, open ended and ludicrous, which encourages engagement on behalf of the viewer and allows viewers to find their own path through the subject matter. These tensions inherent in the works allow us to examine the precarious relationship between ourselves and the physical world, in which we are embedded. The works manifest an expressive and destabilising counterpoint to economic and industrial certainty through contemplating the complexities in this incongruous alloy of parts.
Images courtesy of Denise Brown.