18th Biennale of Sydney Exhibition

A few days ago Judy (another OCA student) and I went to Cockatoo Island to visit part of the 18th Biennale of Sydney exhibition.

The island is about a 20 minute ferry trip from Sydney Wharf and has a history dating back to the time of the first settlement.  Further details can be found by clicking here.  However, suffice to say it has a long shipbuilding, repair and dockyard tradition and is now under the supervision of the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust who aim to protect and improve public access to former defence and Commonwealth sites around Sydney Harbour.  These sites offer major events, exhibitions, venue hire, accommodation, tours and business tenancy.

I thought the venues (numerous huge buildings in various stages of disrepair and decrepitude – with a few much newer and well maintained places interspersed) were brilliant for displaying the gigantic installations in place.   I’ve chosen a few to share below:

This puppet, with a detached box head, is holding a book on psychiatry.  The language of the book was not English and I didn’t recognise it.  Neither Judy or I could find any plaque or reference for this exhibit and it is not featured in the catalogue I have either.  So I am left to draw my own conclusions about who made it and what it represents.

To me it demonstrates how boxed-in we can become, how we are confined by commitments, obligations, social and moral demands and how we feel pressure to conform and stay within the boundaries of our culture and our dependents expectations.  I am starting to see a pattern emerging in my posts, over time, with this theme and these thoughts being explored repeatedly.

This paper gun is part of an installation entitled Ocean of Flowers by Li Hongbo.  When opened up it resembles a honeycomb Christmas decoration.  Li Hongbo has used carved forms resembling weapons, and bullets, throughout his piece. 

His artist statement reads The ‘flowers’ in my work looks so bright and grandstanding, whether or not people really comprehend the damage hidden behind it. 

Where there is life, strong or weak, long or short, large or small, coarse or fine, near or far, visible or invisible, born or not yet born, all should be lived with infinite kindness and a heart to love.

This next piece is entitled The Scar Project by Nadia Myre.  It was started in 2005 and is ongoing.

She examines themes of longing and loss, and the essentially human desire to reconcile the two.  She initiated this project as an open-lab/participatory project where individuals could sit and ‘sew their wounds’.

The photo above shows a collection of the  canvases and there were many, many more stacked in piles and hung in another room.  Nadia describes The Scar Project in her artist statement as a vehicle for sharing personal traumas in a space that is simultaneously contemplative and transformative. 

Each canvas was number stamped and a corresponding entry was made in a folder by the creator recounting the trauma they had suffered.  It was fascinating reading these as some were recent but many stemmed from childhood events.  Some seemed monumental problems to have overcome whilst others appeared quite trivial, but obviously not to the person who suffered at the time.

There were many more very compelling works especially that by Canadian architect Philip Beesley entitled Hylozoic Series which mesmerised Judy and I.  I can’t even begin to describe it here so click on this link and watch the CBC News youtube video to see more detail.  He has clearly been working in this way for quite a while now and has more than one installation along similar lines.  Google images for ‘philip beesley art’ and you will find a lot of visuals of his architectural sculptures.

It was a great day out and I’ve collected some terrific scenic photos along with some close-ups where I’ve concentrated on texture and colour whilst learning about the different settings on my camera.  These pictures will probably end up in my sketchbook – though not necessarily on-line.

Free map issued by Cockatoo Island.
Individual artist statements.


About Claire B

I am a passionate printmaker, paper maker and book artist. I'm a 'forever' student and frequently attend courses and workshops to extend and improve my creative skills.
This entry was posted in Museums, Galleries & Concerts. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to 18th Biennale of Sydney Exhibition

  1. fibresofbeing says:

    I agree – it as a great day and we saw some really interesting work. I’ve been telling everyone about how amazing it felt, that sense of wonder like children at a christmas tree, interacting with Philip Beesley’s work.

  2. Pingback: Biennale of Sydney wrapup « Fibres of Being

  3. Hi there just wanted to give you a quick heads up.
    The words in your article seem to be running off the screen in Opera.

    I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with browser compatibility but I figured I’d
    post to let you know. The design and style look great though!
    Hope you get the issue solved soon. Kudos

    • Claire B says:

      Thanks for letting me know. Are all the rest of the posts formatting OK for you to see? I’ll check out this one and see what has gone wrong (well, I’ll try).

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