Upon her first visit to Newcastle, New Zealand artist Sarah Smuts-Kennedy was confronted by the dominating presence of the large coal ships as they entered and departed Newcastle Harbour. This experience generated a sculptural project that commented on the coal industry in Newcastle whilst acting as an allegory of human folly.
In her practice, Smuts-Kennedy uses intricately moulded synthetic clay plinths to display both gilded and ungilded chunks of coal. The creation of elaborate, hand moulded plinths act as the foundations for such adorned treasures of the natural world. It is in this mode of working that makes the artwork, Pyramid Scheme 2009 reminiscent of the highly precious artifacts and trophies of the Baroque era that also highlights the ever present human desire for trophies of success.
Smuts-Kennedy’s work comments on society’s admiration for treasure, coupled with an underlying environmental message that forces the viewer to question the impact of industry within society.
St Aloysius College
Blue Catastrophe's and Other Natural Disasters (detail) (2011)
ARTEXPRESS Artist Statement:
My body of work explores the textures and surfaces evident in nature; the use of paper clay has allowed me to investigate the naturally-occurring patterns of the Australian landscape, particularly the colours and forms of erosion. My sculpture and ceramics are influenced by the witnessing of natural disasters - their destructive force and creative potential. By making impressions in the clay I have explored contour and form in a style reminiscent of the Papunya Tula artists of the Central Western Desert, but have also made reference to geometric structures.
Describe both works of art creating a list of key words. Outline the emotional impact each work has on you considering similarities and differences both physically and conceptually in your response.
Both artists have created works of art that have multipe pieces. Consider the different methods of display chosen for each work. Write a proposal to a gallery explaining an alternate way of displaying each work.
All materials have an inherent conceptual meaning. Analyse the use of gold leaf in Smuts-Kennedy’s work. Does Edwards’ choice of clay add to the conceptual ideas behind his work? Justify your answer.
Download ARTEXPRESS 2012 Conversation with the Collections.