Wednesday 23 January - Sunday 3 February 2019
Opening Wednesday 23 January, 6.30-8pm
Fennel is an aromatic weed (Latin name Foeniculum vulgare) that grows in tall clumps on untended land - beside railway tracks, on vacant blocks, along riverbanks. It’s an introduced species in Australia and it thrives here. (The edible cultivated fennel is Foeniculum vulgare var. azoricum). Wild fennel’s tall segmented stems, harvested, trimmed and dried, are light and strong - an abundant and unused natural resource. Collected in summer, bundles of them stood in my studio for many months before their purpose became apparent. Tied together with jute twine, they constitute Syzygy II.
The form is a dodecahedron, with each pentagonal face braced by five ribs meeting in the centre. Twelve faces, made of ten lengths of fennel stem, assemble into an almost-sphere, of considerable size and - astounding in itself, for a structure of this size and method of construction - self-supporting. Suspended from the gallery ceiling by a metal swivel, the work can rotate, making reference in microcosm to the movements of larger spheres.
Syzygy II follows the creation and eventual disintegration of its original incarnation Syzygy at the Tropical Spice Garden on the island of Penang in Malaysia. Commissioned in 2013 for the 10th anniversary of the Garden, Syzygy was built from the red-barked branches of the clove tree, Syzygium aromaticum, and installed, suspended at height, amongst the same trees whose pruned branches provided its materials.
The name of the work came partly from the coincidental name of the clove tree genus - Syzygium - but celebrates the serendipitous astronomical meaning of the word: the conjunction or opposition of two heavenly bodies or planetary spheres. One of these spheres is the sculpture, organic, biodegradable and fragile, an imperfect representation of a perfect form. The other is the sphere above which it is suspended, and which entirely sustains us - our planet, Earth. To which the same adjectives might apply…
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