“. . . like a momentary loss of self, replaced
by an expansive sense of connectedness.
It was a point in which time disappeared.”
Time is the essence of our existence. For it is through the concept and consciousness of time that we record our presence and create history, gather memories, pass on knowledge, and experience a sense of being while it positions us in the present and we ponder the possibilities of the future. Our perception of time can suspend us in subtle moments of stillness or propel us through the world reminding us of the fragility and ephemeral nature of our actuality.
Themes of repetition, the passage of time, collected objects and materiality, transformation and memory, the mandala, and other circular and spherical motifs synchronise throughout this exhibition of new and existing works by Melbourne-based artist Louise Rippert and New Zealand artist Steve Carr. The artists have been brought together in Forms for Remembering inspired by exhibition curator Ainsley Gowing’s interest in Carr’s 2016 Smoke Bubble series and how it resonates with Rippert’s works Final Eclipse, 2002, and Small Return, 2005, presented as part of Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery’s (MPRG) Collection+ series, a new and ongoing gallery initiative pairing artists represented in MPRG’s Collection with international artists.
Rippert’s work also absorbs her interest in Eastern philosophy, Indian yoga art, and consciousness – the sentient awareness of one’s inner and outer being – transformation and transcendence. “I can recall a moment as a young child holding a small square of translucent paper to the sky and in that moment of observation something illusive transpiring – like a momentary loss of self, replaced by an expansive sense of connectedness. It was a point in which time disappeared. I think I’ve been looking to express that illusive moment through my art practice ever since,” she recalls.
Through what can be understood as a devotional and somewhat meditative practice, spanning close to three decades, Rippert is known for the meticulous creation of collaged works and circular references of the mandala intricately stitched on paper. One example of her contemplative process can be seen in the work titled Forget-me-not, 2020–21, a lovingly created keepsake of her mother’s collection of notes she’d written on used envelopes and left around her house as a tool for remembering in her final days. It is through the materiality and physical labour of this work that we can understand how meaning can be imbued in the most ordinary of objects. Permanent and temporary sculptures and light-based installations are also trademarks of Rippert’s practice. “I’m often drawn to incorporating the use of light-sensitive materials such as diaphanous glassine and silver gild, which capture and reflect light – the phenomenon which defines time as we know it,” she shares.
For twenty years, Carr has executed his ideas and concepts across film, sculpture, performance, and installation. Through these mediums, Carr instigates emotive viewing experiences that draw onlookers into exchanges of connection, memory, and deep reflection, stirring feelings of nostalgia through humour, amusement, and familiarity. He plays with the suspension of time and builds anticipation, delivering unexpected outcomes in his film-based works.
In this show, Carr too pays homage to his late mother and the deep bond they shared. Using the apple as symbolic representation of his mother’s love for the birds she encountered and fed in her garden, Carr stages an installation of beautifully carved marble apples, surrounded by a series of photographs titled The First Morning – images taken by Carr’s wife the day after his mother passed in 2020, which are based on the performative action of balancing the apple on the body.
Revisiting a concept of two earlier works Nissan Skyline MKI, 2014, and Nissan Skyline MKII, 2019, Carr unveils a new sculptural piece titled Skyline MKIII, 2022, a composition of three tyres (carved by Melbourne-based artist Michael Conole). Carr explains these are not actual tyres but are a mimic of rubber car tyres that have been involved in a burnout session – “carved out of a solid piece of wood then charred to blacken them. Similar to Shou sugi ban, which is an ancient Japanese technique for waterproofing and preserving wood. By doing this, the wood aesthetically transforms into rubber,” he says. “I enjoy that when these works are first encountered, they can easily be read as rubber tyres. But for the more inquisitive viewer, they will discover that the works are of wood, and there is much skill in their execution.”
Forms for Remembering brings together two artists, unknown to each other, with five decades of artistic practice between them, and although the visual aesthetics of their works are different, there is an interflow of ideas and explorations that echo the relevance of time and the role it plays in memory, transformation, and existence.
Kirsty Francis is an arts writer based in Sydney.
Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery
26 March to 31 July 2022