Endgame: A Simple Matter of Balance

Gallery 14, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Queensland

Endgame: A Simple Matter of Balance
by Lyn Plummer

My work has always incorporated forms and methods developed from personal responses to physical and social pressures.

I spent several years as a practicing artist in Papua New Guinea, and this geographical isolation developed strongly individual imagery and forms in my work. It has also moulded my understanding of space and sense of place, which is markedly different from that of artists who develop and work in an urban, Western art conscious environment.

Papua New Guinea's dynamic landscape, people and artworks have a strong influence on all inhabitants. The artwork of the people is incredibly varied and original in its forms. My source has remained this wealth of experience together with an understanding of the wide variety of configurations possible when experiment, not tradition, is the rule.

The use of fine linear forms, squeezed in by the pressure of the space they inhabit, has remained an important involvement. It accentuates the fragility and resilience of the form.

Certain concerns and concepts remain fundamental to the work, and certain obsessions to do with the nature and result of the processes I use drive me to continue to develop a medium which gives the impression of great fragility, flexibility and ephemerality. There is a concern, too, to investigate the notion of rebuilding a known form at differing times for specified rituals. With each rebuilding comes a subtle change in the nature of the structure and how it relates to its space.

The body is a keypoint of reference, both for the relationship to scale and for the lacquered, layered, impregnated tissue. The skins become translucent membranes, flesh which conceals and yet somehow exposes the nature of the internal space and mentally invites closer examination. The transmutation of this distressed and torn flesh into lace, which mystifies while both concealing and revealing, has been an area of investigation over the past three years.

The use of the fragile, organic materials combined with found objects and images produces ephemeral forms which are designed to demand. by their very fragility, more space than they occupy. Their tentative hold on the environment is used as a means to develop a sense of tension.

The methods of construction remain consciously 'primitive'. The lashing, binding and weaving combine with the repetition of structures to produce rhythms, beats and echoes. The surfaces reveal the layering and develop a narrative of experiences, memories, and illusions.

In December 1982 1 began work on the Bird Series. These explorations led to the present developments. Discussions with a painter friend, who was also a psychologist, began my examination of the use of words which give off strong visual messages of people's understanding of themselves and of how they categorise others. This analysis of the images of women, especially from the printed media, has remained an important preoccupation.

Over the past eight years, the translucent shroud, sail, veil and wing forms began to merge with each other and with the use of words and images from the printed media. The latter were embedded in layers into the tissue. Many of the sculptures have incorporated various banner like forms.

The new sculptures were developed from the Adroit Performers series, exhibited at Roz MacAllan's Gallery in October 1988. They involve the concept of ritualistic garb and performance which enshrouds our instincts. The combination of pieces is conceived to work structurally as a large installation piece. The scale of the individual pieces relates specifically to the nature of the space chosen. This means that the viewer will be led into and involved in the play by the scale and placement of the forms. Endgame: A Simple Matter of Balance explores our propensity to enmesh our instinctual behaviour in symbolic ritual and metaphor which can be most readily communicated by visual image, abstract performance and spatial relationships.

The works combine ritual-type, fragile, primary forms with geometric, metallic-like structures which relate closely to circus performance and primitive theatre. The amalgamation of forms is designed to engender a glimpse of the vestiges of ritualistic ceremony which remain embedded in our cultural and individual performances and responses. The work questions our reproduction (for reasons long forgotten) of the individual, ceremonial-type formations. It also reiterates how many seemingly extinct and vaguely recalled cultural rituals are engaged by the media as strategies to arouse unspecified desires.

The three-dimensional objects (varying in height between approximately three and five metres) comprise two major components: geometric, metallic coloured elements developed from functional forms which relate to sideshow, war or bizarre performances with undercurrents of violence and risk; and fragile, organic, translucent wings, robes etc. clinging to them which relate to the opulent vestments of high ceremonial rites. Each piece is mounted on a pedestal echoing the notion of classicism. These elements also integrate the idea of the circus podium.

These latest works combine the primitive and organic forms of earlier sculptures with an interest in the opulence of the Renaissance. The highly decorative surfaces, the fine embroidery and lacework, and the use of the pedestal to emphasise the sense of grandeur have become subjects of research. The rich lace layers become a metaphor for the closeting of women into tight roleplay, concealing, revealing and accentuating the sensuousness of the flesh.

The wall banners incorporate iconic images of women in ritualistic roles chosen from imagery past and present: closeted, partially concealed, sensuous forms, which comment on the current packaging of women for public visual consumption and draw on the ancient myths depicted in art, literature and folk lore. They are veiled and layered as is the private nature of the individual's response to many media presentations of the female roles. Mass media's commodity images are reconstructed to present a pseudo-reverence to accepted mores while dwelling on the underlying intent to arouse desire.

Endgame: A Simple Matter of Balance presents the players in ritual formation.

Lyn Plummer © 1990