You are here
I did not travel to Darwin recently to see Vicky Shukuroglou 's solo exhibition but if I had, the trip would have been well worth while.
Earth, wings and wire aptly names a collection of pieces created, on the one hand, from fine wire - electrical fuse wire, copper and sterling silver - and on the other from more substantial pieces of copper and silver. The latter ranged from open to almost closed containers to silver and copper cups. I found myself being drawn from form to form - from the shallow copper dish that I could have brushed off the plinth, to the tight and compact silver cup that would be at home in Xena's kitchen (I imagine Xena has a kitchen, I've never seen her eat or drink!).
While there is no doubt about the function of open containers, spoons and candlesticks - things sit in them – the works created from wire are more ambiguous and intriguing. In 1998 Vicky Shukuroglou spent four months in the Northern Territory, two of which were spent in Maningrida, home to some of the best examples of the use of natural fibres in creating baskets and other containers. This Territorian residency has played a significant role in the earth, wings and wire exhibition. Just as the Territory runs from the lush tropical north to the harsh central desert, Shukuroglou's pieces range from the ethereal to the down to earth.
The works created from wire, like the containers, are able to hold things. Some do; the Mani mani neckpiece is filled with seeds from the Redbead Tree; a sterling silver armband also contains seeds but you have to look very carefully to spot them. But it's the pieces that could hold things, but don't, that intrigued me. Shapes suggested the possibility of putting something inside but the delicacy of the structures said, No. I was particularly drawn to a cornucopia shaped object in sterling silver with tendrils tumbling from each end. The ambiguity lay in the notion that the cornucopia represents the fullness of the harvest; this object can be filled only with imagination.
The influence of the earth is evident also in the use of organic materials; seeds, flower pods and fibres, as well as shells, feathers and horse hair. 'The act of gathering the materials ... is also part of the process. The work becomes more personal and holds an element of intimacy'.
Accompanying the exhibition was a colour catalogue of the artist's works. Leafing through the sheets, I was struck by two impressions-that the work on display was only a tiny part of her output to date (and her pieces currently being exhibited in Talente 99, Munich show other influences), and that she had access to a photographer of considerable talent. When I later commented that the photographs were works of art in their own right she acknowledged that she is also the photographer.
The artist's next step is to combine these skills, using an endoscopy camera to record and project images from inside the objects, removing what little barrier now exists between the 'inside' and the 'outside' and extending into another dimension the organic nature of her work. It will be worth travelling to see, wherever it is.