This fascinating exhibition, at Hazelhurst Gallery & Arts Centre, features a 9 metre long table fully laden with crockery, cutlery, food and platters – all made from salt, including the table and supports.
The husband and wife team spent four months on-site as artists in residence creating each individual piece. Many of the pieces are cast, but they are keeping their recipe for binding the salt a secret. Once formed, the salt becomes so solid that a grinder is used to cut, shape and polish the components as it becomes harder than concrete. They estimate around 1.5 tonnes of salt has gone into the exhibit.
The work points to concerns arising from increasing salinity levels in Australia and unsustainable agricultural practices. In the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, the massive banquet of luxurious foodstuffs also becomes a larger visualisation of the problems of food security and safety in an increasingly toxic world.
The exhibit exudes a feeling of cold, even icy, calm. Drama is created by the darkness of the surrounding setting, spotlights illuminate only the table and shadows are thrown from every piece. I noticed in particular how this environment affected the viewers. They moved slowly, almost on tip-toe, along the length whispering very, very quietly and left the room subdued. Almost all I saw made a point of reading the artists statement.
I went to see this art work twice, once at the opening evening and again 6 weeks later. Both times I was struck by the intense quiet, the feeling of disconnection from what was outside the room and the stark white of the minutely detailed foodstuffs and other pieces. I can’t say that I liked or disliked this exhibition but I’ll remember it. The techniques used, including the sculpting, were superb in their outcome.
Photos taken by myself and from Hazelhurst Gallery & Art Centre web page.
Some text taken from artists statement.