Woollen Works

This body of work explores the possibilities of artistic transformation of material. By transforming the material of which it is composed, art can create dual layers of paradox, placing the viewer in a liminal space between different tactile and conceptual realities. This liminal space is the space of free floating attention which enfolds both the art audience and meditative practice.

The artist composes these works using woollen fabric patterned with straight lines. By cutting and turning the material, she generates within this heavy, linear form a paradoxical lightness – an effect of wind blowing, rippling water, or light refracted through a prism. These panels of light and movement position the viewer in a meditative space.

The viewer’s experience of perspective oscillates. At times the works appear to be without perspective – flat modernist pieces revelling in the boundaries of their medium. Then suddenly the viewer feels they are high in the sky, looking down on a landscape from the air. The work becomes a map, reminiscent of Aboriginal dot paintings. These maps sometimes appear to be drawn from space, and at other times they seem to be maps of space, star charts, dropped from the future into the artist’s imagination.

The works are sculpted from woollen blankets. Woollen blankets are a domestic material, with connotations of comfort, protection and nostalgia. This homely fabric is given an uncanny resonance through its transformation into shapes with a cosmic significance – the circle, the ellipse, planets, orbits. In the transformation of material effected by this work our domestic sphere is shot through with a vast cosmological perspective. In this way these abstract sculptural works approach the sublime. We are unsettled, inspired, moved, and reminded of our relationship to the universe.

Here the environmental significance of the work becomes visible: not only is our domestic sphere shot through with the cosmological, but in these works the circle (the planet) is shot through with the domestic, the weave of the blanket. We are reminded by this work of our global impact.

The works powerfully address the audience. Combining within their form the square and circle motif of flags, they speak to us as flags of unknown origin – a mysterious semaphore. They operate as an artistic representation of morse code, a composition in dots and dashes, with an order to be unravelled in the synthetic experience of the viewer. We feel a message has been sent, perhaps from the future. Viewing the work involves unravelling this message.

Susan Wirth