mini-museum

glen henderson
Institute of Modem Art, Craft Queensland Gallery, and Satellite Studio 17, Brisbane
September - October 2000

The three facets of Glen Henderson's Mini-Museum oriented themselves around the architecture of a bug. The artist constructed an analogy between the bug or the natural world and the metamorphic possibi lities of contemporary architecture and design; there was also a soupr;on of humour in relation to the Y2K bug, one suspects. In MiniMuseum, Henderson highl ighted the possibilities for fluid and evolving design to operate at both the level of materials employed and the dynamics of building in the contemporary world. In this three-part assault on the bug, Henderson utilised the semi-public spaces of the Institute of Modern Art's Ann Street window, the Craft Queensland Ivory Street window and Satellite Studio 17, thereby reaching out to three somewhat varied audiences. As all of the premises are within a stone's throw or so of each other, there were also easy possibilities for eo-relating the three installations. The IMA harboured the red textile bug suitquite amusingly-high in its front window, Craft Queensland gave shelter to a small installation of black carved bugs and laminated wood ca rcasses, while Satellite 17 hosted an installation of white slip cast clay bugs on transparent shelves. Notably, all three works favoured natural materials.

Mini-Museum is a further investigation in Henderson's ongoing exploration of the interface between the social body and the design of public spaces. These latest enterprises articulate lucid ly, with Henderson's work now operating in the cracks between art, design and architecture. This interest was developed tellingly in 'T ekhne', the artists + architects exhibition and forum of 1999 which was conceived by Henderson and held at the Royal Australian Institute of Architects. Architect and academic, John McDonald, applauded the initiative behind Tekhne, commenting that '[c]ertain of the works did show the kind of inflection that architecture might give to art', and cited Henderson's own work with Michael Dickson and Malcolm Middleton of DEM Design as a persuasive collaboration.1

He concluded that 'to have any hope of suturing rupture and making space for real productive partnerships, there needs to be ... a lot more work on the conceptual relationship of art with architecture and the meaning of 'public' 2 Prior to Tekhne Henderson's solo show, Mapping the Surface, held at the University of Queensland Art Museum, also dealt with the relationsh ip between body and architecture. In this installation the artist examined the manner in which the folds-internal and external-of the body meld with a installed modular environment. The experience of the visiting body to Mapping the Surface was to discover what is at stake for a body navigating an environment in both a physical and psychological way. The help contextualise Mini Museum, Henderson installed a video about the bug at the IMA. This video brought together images from the th ree sites, including footage of a performer wearing the bug suit and moving about in it. The video espoused some of the tenets of Henderson's thought apropos bugs and design-notably, that the natural kingdom is a fitting model for the designer, and that matter naturally shapes itse lf into the kind of structure best able to absorb stress. Satellite 17 also presented some diagrams charting correlations between elements installed in the three sites of Mini Museum. Henderson comments that she has found that fully realised 'metamorphic' design projects are still rare. While architects and designers are certainly using the natural order as a model for producing, such impulses are not being translated into completed works. lt is certa in that Henderson will pursue this issue of metamorphosis through art and design.

notes: 

1. Macarthur, J, Architecture Australia, January/February 2000, p. 20.

2. Ibid.