Most gallery visits find us absorbing art history while we marvel at master works from earlier times, but as the Melbourne Now exhibition opens at NGV Australia this week, it’s the living, breathing present that captures us. Ten years after the first iteration of this ambitious contemporary blockbuster, we once again come face-to-face with images and ideas that reflect our own time and place. Among more than 200 works overtaking the Federation Square gallery are 70 brand-spanking new commissions made just for the show. In compiling our list of the most eye-catching, we asked the artists about their inspirations and found that the future of Australia’s cultural capital is in the cleverest of hands.
Georgia Banks says auditioning for a reality TV dating program “is a lot like being in a real relationship”.Credit:Simon Schluter
Reality TV is the contemporary colosseum, says Georgia Banks: it’s where we go to watch human suffering. “We used to watch gladiators, we used to watch public executions; there’s always been a gathering place where we drink the pain of others.”
An immersive artist whose projects are often long-term, Banks spent nearly two years applying to appear on reality TV, specifically on shows about dating and relationships. During the process, she was asked hundreds of personal questions in order to determine whether she was a good fit. Having signed non-disclosure agreements, she can’t name the programs but across the board, producers didn’t hold back with queries ranging from how many people she’d had sex with through to whether she would describe herself as lonely.
Portrait of Georgia Banks © Georgia Banks.Credit:Kerry Leonard
The application for one show took nine months and in some ways, she says, the process mirrored real life. “Just towards the very end you get a template response, [saying thanks but no]. You have a relationship with them, because they want you to think you are going to get on the show, then they just ghost you – which is a lot like being in a real relationship.”
Despite not making it onto the shows, Banks decided to make use of all the data collected. She teamed up with Dr Jey Han Lau, senior lecturer in the University of Melbourne’s school of computing and information systems, along with other computer specialists from the university, to create G, a ChatBot programmed with all of her data.
“I had all of this information about myself and I wondered how accurate the portrayal was,” she says. “I should enter her into the Archibald.”
Appearing in Melbourne Now are both the chatbot G and a video called Databaes, a meta creation based on a reality TV show, which features Banks as herself and playing G. “I spent this period of time talking to her to see what relationship we would form … I was very confronted, shocked – sometimes she said things that I would have said when I was auditioning in 2019. I was like, no, you sound so stupid! It really puts to bed that idea that if I was dating another version of myself it would be great – it’s not true.
“I genuinely had an argument with a ChatBot version of myself,” Banks says. “It’s confronting to have something you would have said spat out at you.”
Visitors to Melbourne Now will be able to talk to G on their mobile phones; if you open her up in the gallery you can take her home with you. “We’re not recording or archiving any of the conversations; there’s a certain level of self-surveillance. If people think someone else is listening, [it’s] less performative.”
This is the Banks’ first tech-driven work. “AI made the most sense to me in this project, led here by my own conceptual interests,” she says. “I’m very ideas-driven and then I find the most appropriate medium. I’m more interested in asking questions than answering them. Databaes is a provocation, not that tech is bad but [to get you to] think about its impact and how much we are giving away.”
Despite her interest in dating shows, Banks doesn’t use dating apps. “Because I am an addict. I’m six years sober. The apps like Tinder are designed to be addictive.”
Another of her ongoing projects is Remains to be Seen, for which she plans to “give away” her body following death. “Anyone can apply to have control over my body once I die and they can take on the planning of my funeral and what will happen to me,” she says, adding that the idea is to talk about death and legacy and this drive towards the known in our society.
In 2019, Banks spent a year competing in beauty pageants. “Everything about my life changed when I did that work, everything about my appearance changed every time I stepped out of the house,” she says. “I really believe in using my life as my work.” Kerrie O’Brien
J’ATON’s pink gown
J’Aton’s Jacob Luppino, left, and Anthony Pittorino, and their design for Melbourne Now.
It’s not Melburnian black. That’s the first thing. A showpiece commissioned by the NGV from local couture studio J’Aton for the Fashion Now part of its vast Melbourne Now exhibition is pink. And not just any pink; a cartoonishly hot, lipsticky, meaning-laden neon that’s a whole virtual colourwheel away from the inky ink that fashionable Melburnians are known to prefer.
“It needed to be pink,” explains couturier Anthony Pittorino, partner in J’Aton with Jacob Luppino. “Pink’s got power and strength. It represents a new generation of kids who are fluid and confident, but it’s also divisive, it’s worn by different people for polar opposite reasons. Pink’s embraced because it’s masculine, it’s embraced because it’s feminine, it’s used to light up beautiful architecture and fun parks and ferris wheels, it’s in the gorgeous [Leonard French] ceiling at the NGV, it’s what I see first in the graffiti along [Melbourne] laneways [the ghost town of fashion, Flinders Lane] where we used to buy beads and visit our dressmakers … Pink feels like where the world is now.”
Pittorino and Luppino’s fantastically flashy pink gown, with its waved hourglass form and curious, saw-toothed surface laser-cut into a high-tech neoprene-like fabric engineered in Italy from recycled plastic bottles, is the centrepiece of 30 works by 18 Melbourne designers and studios, selected by curator Danielle Whitfield and her NGV fashion and textiles team.
“Very different, very individual,” Whitfield says of a group ranging from recent graduate and emerging labels to established businesses cherry-picked after “endless studio visits” over a couple of years. “But they all have a common vernacular.”
Common, and as semiotically complex, as J’Aton’s pink.
“That’s what came to the surface with everybody, from recent graduates to established [brands],” Whitfield says. “The issues underpinning their fashion practices: they’re all very values-driven. Time and time again we heard designers talk about identity, politics, sustainability, ethical practice, diversity, inclusivity.”
Fashion Now marks a profound shift since the first Melbourne Now a decade ago, when designers were driven by trends or expressive individualism, to an industry fuelled by social awareness today.
J’Aton’s commission logically followed couturier Toni Maticevski’s for Melbourne Now 2003 but was, nonetheless, a pleasant shock for Pittorino and Luppino. They live relatively humbly, despite the array of wealthy and celebrity women, from Jennifer Lopez to Dita Von Teese, who have commissioned their extraordinary couture since they opened their first atelier in 1995.
“We’re small,” says Pittorino. “It’s just me and Jacob here sewing most of the time. We don’t even have a website or post on Instagram that much, so it was a surprise and very validating to know people like the NGV respect us.” Janice Breen Burns
TROY EMERY, Mountain Climber, 2022
Troy Emery with his Mountain Climber, for which he applied 9000 pompoms.Credit:Chris Hopkins
Troy Emery’s Melbourne Now commission is his largest yet: a 3.5 metre feline figure, seemingly caught in motion – and covered in 9000 brightly coloured pompoms. Based on the form of a mountain lion, the work is so big Emery couldn’t complete it in his studio and had to move to a foundry in Sunshine.
The work is made from a steel armature with milled foam; Emery then applied every pompom individually. And no, there is no high-art term we can use instead of “pompoms”.
Troy Emery’s Mountain Climber.Credit:NGV
“I’ve used 8 centimetre chenille pompoms – machine-made craft ones – and each one was screwed on individually, which took about three weeks of full-time work.
“I do find them kind of cringey,” he admits. “Someone will say to me, ‘Oh, you’re a sculptor, do you work in stone or wood?’ And I say, ‘Well, I work in pompoms!’ If I’m trying to make myself sound serious and important though, I’ll use the word ‘textiles’.”
Emery is known for creating often uncanny sculptures of animal forms – faceless and covered in fur, fringing or other textiles – that explore our historic relationship with animals and the aesthetics associated with natural history; think taxidermy, but with vibrant, tactile pelts. His sculptures tend to be based on domestic animals, rendered at a life-size scale, but this commission is, he jokes, “on a dinosaur scale”.
Mountain Climber appears to be walking off its plinth, caught mid-movement; Emery was inspired by old-school museum dioramas.
“I’m interested in the tropes of traditional figurative sculpture, with the plinth and the museum furniture as almost part of the work,” he says. “I wanted to exhibit this piece on a classic museum display device, and have [it] be kind of … breaking free from that.”
Emery’s work has always blurred the line between art and craft, but he says he’s not “participating in a craft dialogue”.
“As with anything, there are different parameters. Craft leans towards a technical tradition, which I’m not really engaging in, and craft also leans towards a kind of home, decorative arts – I’m playing on that … I suppose it’s art about craft, rather than craft itself.”
As an animal lover, Emery says they were his entry point into the appreciation of the experience of museums and public institutions such as zoos.
“And the idea of things representing bigger ideas,” he says. “You visit the zoo and you learn about endangered species, and you visit the museum and learn about extinct species. I’ve always thought the idea of something representing a bigger idea translates very neatly into how we look at contemporary art.” Kylie Northover
MIA BOE, For the angels in paradise, 2022
Mia Boe: “I feel this weird sense of ‘who am I to tell my story?’”Credit:Courtesy of the artist
Mia Boe describes the courthouse scene portrayed in one of her recent paintings as “the jury cake”. Piled up in three cake-like tiers, however, the jury looks neither sweet nor celebratory. The black, elongated hands in the foreground, reaching out to that stony jury, speak of desperation. They evoke First Nations people’s experience of trauma and violence, both historical and contemporary.
The painting, one of nine in a series being shown as part of the artist’s mural-based installation, has a powerful resonance for Boe, whose family has Indigenous and Burmese heritage, and some members in the legal profession. The works deal specifically with how the Australian justice system operates in terms of deaths in custody, and the violent treatment and oppression of Aboriginal people and culture.
Boe’s paintings are mounted at eye level beneath an enormous temporary wall-based mural at The Ian Potter Centre – a mural, she says, which is redolent of the Australian landscape, featuring blue skies, ochre-coloured earth, dingoes, trees and even a Hills Hoist. The mural faces works by 20th century social realist artists Noel Counihan and Russell Drysdale, drawn from the NGV collection.
Installation view of Mia Boe’s For the angels in paradise 2023 on display in Melbourne Now. Credit:Sean Fennessy
“I have a strong interest in that social-realist tradition but wanted to interpret the issues for myself, looking primarily at the relationship between Aboriginal people, police, courtrooms and the justice system,” Boe says. While she references real events, she keeps the details and figures non-specific out of sensitivity to those who have lost family. The human forms in these paintings, she says, are more like representations of ancestral spirits, embodying historical figures.
With an edge of surrealism, Boe’s paintings refer to events such as an all-white jury letting off a white accused person, despite the evidence of a crime, or authorities forcing Aboriginal people off a cliff. “This is one of the most violent of the images, but it is based on events … that have happened,” Boe says. She also refers to Aboriginal people hiding in rivers and waterways to evade authorities during colonial times.
Boe considers herself fortunate as an artist to be able to research and talk about these issues. “I feel this weird sense of ‘who am I to tell my story?’ But storytelling is important and necessary in all cultures.”
While she finds it difficult to read about traumatic historical and contemporary events, it is important to her and her family to tell the truth in this way. “And I’m proud to do that.” Andrew Stephens
MEAGAN STREADER, Sky whispers
Meagan Streader: “Imagine hundreds of tall, towering, slightly angled lines of warm white light.” Credit:Anne Moffat
Meagan Streader transforms space with light. For more than a decade she’s created large-scale immersive light installations that are otherworldly, like a science-fiction realm, or Blade Runner set. Yet they are also, in Streader’s words, “magical and sublime”.
Describing her work for Melbourne Now, she says: “Imagine hundreds of tall, towering, slightly angled lines of warm white light which come down from the ceiling, down the walls and across the floor, completely covering the space; you’ll get to immerse yourself within it.”
As with her previous light installations, Sky whispers is informed by the architecture of the site, in this case The Ian Potter Centre at Federation Square.
“The gallery is filled with unusual angles, nooks, voids and walkways,” she says. “It’s very fragmented architecturally, and I wanted to explore that by bringing in the exterior experience of light into the interior space of the gallery.”
In a darkened corridor on level three, Streader is installing thin lines of light, created with light tape. The work features slanted walls to enhance the fractured sensibility. Streader wants to affect viewers physically and emotionally. While she finds working with light grounding and calming, she’s also drawn to a sense of impossibility.
“It takes you out of reality,” she says. “Light is completely affecting; physically, visually, psychologically. It has so many different qualities and powers to it.”
Installation view of Meagan Streader’s Sky Whispers 2023 on display in Melbourne Now.Credit:Sean Fennessy
Streader’s practice links to conceptualists such as Fred Sandback, Dan Flavin and Robert Irwin, whose works influenced her during a New York residency in 2016. These artists created sculptural or light-filled spaces centred on the movement of the spectator and how this alters their perception of the work.
While many conceptual pieces of the 1950s and ’60s have a spiritual quality that Streader aligns with, many also contain an implicit masculine energy. She envisions something softer, gentler: “We need to make space for a different kind of feeling.”
Her work is a meeting of natural and artificial light, all activated by a visitor walking through the space, and ultimately culminating in one idea: connection. “It’s expanding our sense of the world and each other,” Streader says. “I think there’s something fundamental about installations as spaces for connecting people.”
We spend our lives in light, from the sun to streetlights to neon signs to digital screens, and while light is implicated in the history of capitalism and modernism, Streader is more focused on its emotional quality. “I’m interested in elevating our experience of the world,” she says. It’s almost primal; the first and last thing we see, supposedly, is light. Tiarney Miekus
JAMES LEMON, Swarming
James Lemon, Swarming, 2022.Credit:Courtesy of the artist
New Zealand-born artist James Lemon’s commission for Melbourne Now may be one of the exhibition’s most playful works. Described as “part installation and part playground”, this participatory work fills an entire room.
Principally a ceramic artist, Lemon has also embraced other media for the project, including soft sculpture, painting, textiles and digital media, to celebrate the part bees play in our ecosystems. Swarming invites viewers to “become” a bee; after entering what Lemon describes as “little hobbit doors – one for adults and a small one for kids to crawl through”, visitors can experience a bee’s-eye view.
“The project is an imagination, or an interpretation of what it might be like to be a bee within a hive,” Lemon says. “I mean, technically if you’re in a hive, it’s complete darkness, so there is a bit of artistic licence there. I’m drawing from the different sensory experiences and using that as a jumping-off point – I’m using a lot of UV-reactive colours and fabrics and finishes, because bees see in ultraviolet.”
Installation view of James Lemon’s Swarming 2023 on display in Melbourne Now.Credit:Tom Ross
He’s hesitant to describe the work as having an environmental message.
“I think it’s more a celebration of the wild complexity of life,” he says. “For me, I look at insects and it’s such a different type of life form, yet there is unmistakable intelligence and genius within it. I think for me it’s about repositioning the eye and kind of … looking through a slightly different lens.”
Insects, he says, are “the canary in the coalmine”, in terms of environmental damage. “It’s not just bees – it’s all insects. The decline of insects has been pretty rapid from the 1970s. Without sounding too dour, I feel like I’m just bearing witness. I feel a little bit powerless, and I think that’s maybe what I’m trying to express; I don’t really have anything else that I can do.”
Swarming is a departure from Lemon’s early work making often-functional ceramic pieces; making art, he says, was always his “destination”.
“The functional stuff, the design side of my work has definitely blurred and dissolved into my art practice,” he says. “But at least I know that in the apocalypse I can make sure we have clean objects to eat out of.”
Swarming is his largest work to date. “And it’s also my first all-ages work, and a participatory work for everybody,” he says. “It’s made me look at things from a few different perspectives.” Kylie Northover
LEE DARROCH’s message sticks
Lee Darroch’s message sticks are a centrepiece of Melbourne Now.Credit:NGV Australia
On her regular walks through the bush, Lee Darroch often finds branches that look like animals. A few added teeth and there’s a crocodile; an upturned wing or three and suddenly, a trio of flying ducks appears. The Yorta Yorta, Mutti Mutti and Boon Wurrung woman’s message sticks, fashioned from found objects near her home on Raymond Island in Gippsland, will form a striking centrepiece of Melbourne Now stretching almost 10 metres.
“The message sticks themselves turned into different things, so I just collected them as sticks and took them back to my studio and started working with them using a wood burner,” she says. “They’re different to what you’ve seen; it’s using found objects in nature, saying ‘this is what you’re missing’.”
Traditional message sticks were used as communication between tribal groups or clans. One side would be notched with the number of people invited to a gathering, and the other would be the reply, saying who was coming. Traditionally they were painted or carved, but Darroch’s are burnt. “All I’ve done is embellish it … If it looked like a crocodile, I’d just make it a bit more croc-like,” she says.
Lee Darroch: ″We’re all distracted by things that don’t matter.″Credit:NGV Australia
Speaking via phone from her home near Paynesville, Darroch is struggling to hear me above the sound of koalas mating outside her window. “It sounds like a pig crossed with a baby crying,” she says, laughing. Where she lives is like a nature reserve. Her work is inspired by the natural world, and this one in particular by the threat posed to it – and to all of us – by climate change.
Having been hit by extreme bushfires and unseasonal floods in the past few years, the area from Orbost to Eden includes tens of thousands of trees that will never regenerate, she says. “It looks like they are dancing in anguish.”
The crisis led her to think about “a way to show ‘doota guntha woka’, which means ‘save Mother Earth now’.”
“I was playing around with that and thinking about ways to strengthen our people.”
The artwork took about 16 months to make, and includes 100-odd message sticks, along with 38 women and 38 men made from driftwood, representing the 38 language groups of Indigenous people in Victoria. The figures represent elders who are “connecting the songlines together for strength in these times of really grave adversity and hardship on the earth”.
Darroch would usually return such a piece to country, but this will remain with the NGV. “That’s probably good because that’s where the environmental message needs to be heard; it goes straight to the heart of Melbourne,” she says. “People in the cities tend to be more disconnected from the environment.”
Darroch worked mainly outside at home to create the piece, laying out the message sticks for the men and then joining them to the message sticks of the women to create one continuous line. “I could see what they represented to me but I was going to leave it to whoever comes to see the exhibition to see what it means to them.”
She says it’s time to stop and listen to our First Nations elders around the globe. “It was an environmental message, I suppose, but it’s also about survival; we won’t survive if we keep going like this. I think we’re all distracted by Netflix and we’ve been drugged by things that don’t matter, like consumerism … issues that aren’t really at the heart of what the world needs right now.” Kerrie O’Brien
CHRISTINE JOHNSON, Eremophila, 2022
Christine Johnson, Eremophila, 2022, intaglio and pigment print. Credit:Christine Johnson
“An invisible magnet” drew Christine Johnson to the work of pioneering Mallee botanist Eileen Ramsay. As she pored over Ramsay’s writings and specimens held in the National Herbarium of Victoria, she was struck by an inexplicable sense of sadness. It seemed odd, given that Ramsay’s massive contribution to preserving and celebrating the indigenous flora of the regions around Mildura seemed full of positive results and joyous enthusiasm.
She discovered that Ramsay’s life (1887-1961) had been overshadowed by the deaths of her two young brothers at Gallipoli. Perhaps, Johnson wonders, Ramsay dedicated herself to so much productive fieldwork as a counter-measure. A love of nature and of life, after all, is the antithesis of war.
Since 2015, Johnson’s creative output has focused on what she describes as Ramsay’s “redemptive act of botanising”. Her botanically themed work for Melbourne Now, Eremophila (common name, emu bush) references a plant spread over all the semi-arid parts of Australia, where its habitat is at risk. Johnson’s layered work has been described as both a celebration of the desert-loving plant and a plea for its conservation.
Eremophila is considered sacred in Indigenous cultures and has widespread medicinal use. It is one of the plants that Johnson, with the help of Mallee plant enthusiasts and field naturalists, has located while trying to determine which florae from Ramsay’s surveys still exist in the region’s ecosystem.
Johnson always begins her work by drawing specimens – a practice that aligns with her curiosity about the links between art, science and ecology. “You do connect deeply with nature through drawing, never mind what your scribbles look like,” she says. “I noticed this when I went out botanising with these complete plant enthusiasts: their dedication to the landscape was awe-inspiring and they had this capacity to see detail in the same way you do when you draw. It is just by immersing yourself in it.”
Johnson has been transformed by her experience of this landscape – which, her research confirms, was described with a mixture of wonder and horror by early colonial explorers. “One of the things about going out into that desert landscape is that it appears to be hostile, yet it embraces you. You can understand why this was something Eileen Ramsay ended up dedicating her life to, by identifying and collecting everything she was able to in order to help preserve it as a legacy.”
The work of Ramsay and her cohort of field naturalists led to the proclamation of the Hattah-Kulkyne National Park. Johnson, with her exquisitely evocative prints and drawings of plants, continues it as well: upcoming projects, including a botanic-themed laneway installation in Dandenong and a solo exhibition in Red Cliffs in September, enmesh beautifully with Ramsay’s legacy. Andrew Stephens
Grace Wood with some of her earlier works. Credit:Gemma-Rose Turnbull
When Grace Wood was searching the National Gallery of Victoria’s internal image archive – more than a million snaps recording everything from openings to collections to conservation – she found a particularly curious set of photographs. Inside a loading bay, in front of a black curtain, was a set of artfully arranged, glaringly yellow delivery cases. “There’s no information on who took these or why but I found something so compelling, almost David Lynch-like, about them,” she says.
These photographs, alongside more than 600 archival NGV images, feature in Wood’s collages for Melbourne Now. Six framed pieces will hang from thick coloured rope, the collages printed on fabric and vinyl. In one, the yellow cases appear alongside a woman with brightly coloured teardrops collecting in buckets. Another image plays on snakes and ladders, while another features an exquisite jumble of ropes, ancient artwork, a gilded frame, birds and more, all set against velvety blue backdrops.
Over the past decade Wood has created digital collages from archives and internet searches. In a world of perpetual image creation, she is partly questioning the divide between professional and amateur photography – “today everyone and no one is a photographer,” she says – where photography emerges as both an art form and utilitarian practice. She’s also highlighting the imperfection of archives as a “true” record of reality and history; they are, she points out, filled with personal bias.
Yet Wood’s Melbourne Now collages ultimately revel in aesthetic allure. “When I visited Monet’s works on Naoshima [Japan’s art island)] I read that when Monet was going blind, he created paintings he said were ‘grand decorations’. I like the idea of all art being a grand decoration.” The purposeful seduction of Wood’s refined layering and colour palettes is motivated by her desire for “anyone to get the work”.
Wood also gravitated to collage for its historical alignment with women’s craft. While the Melbourne Now collages are half printed on textiles (another form historically seen as women’s work), they’re also composed digitally: Wood belongs to a generation raised on the early digitisation of images, Dolly magazines, Tumblr pages, Pinterest boards and Instagram.
Wood contemplates how contemporary culture functions on endless images – most of which we’ll never see – and creating within this. “When everything has been photographed a thousand times, does it need to be photographed more?” she asks. “Instead, I shifted to using found images.”
When questioning what a “true” image is – especially when a reverse Google search can yield thousands of matches – Wood is more interested in the fallibility of originality.
“I know it’s nihilistic!” she says, laughing. “But I have no desire to add to our canon of images – collage is a more interesting vehicle to comment through.“ Tiarney Miekus
ZHU OHMU, Organ pipe mud dauber, #10, 2022
Zhu Ohmu with some of her works, and, right, her Melbourne Now commission, Organ pipe mud dauber, #10, 2022. Credit:© Zhu Ohmu
Zhu Ohmu was being driven across town with her latest ceramic work steadied on her lap, when she noticed the coiled vessel was “about torso height”. That’s how she measures her creations, in relation to the human body. Using her hands to loop lengths of moist clay upon one another, she has discovered that torso height is about the limit of the physics involved: after that, the sheer weight of the material forces it to collapse on itself.
Ohmu is part of an ancient tradition: coiled pots have been around for thousands of years. But her interest is also very contemporary as it has a focus on the use of 3D printer technology to replicate coiled pottery. In one project at RMIT, Ohmu scanned one of her own coiled vessels and tried to get the 3D ceramics printer to copy it. But the machine could not manage the extreme overhangs Ohmu tends to have in her work: the technology could not replicate her intuitive understanding of what clay can do.
Ohmu is quick to point out she is not “anti-machine” – rather, she is interested in examining the limitations of emerging technologies. Her work is a commentary on the virtues of the “slow” movement in response to our age of rapid automation and mass-production.
“A point of difference between the 3D-printed vessels and mine is they are all pre-programmed … mine are made intuitively in that I have to respond to the weight of the clay and the way it likes to move … it is like a collaboration with the material.”
She describes the “slow” approach to art-making as a “creative flow state” where there is a feeling of being deeply in the present, where “you are so immersed in that moment, so undistracted” that time seems not to exist.
“I feel like a lot of athletes feel that during peak performance and a lot of creatives feel it, too, while doing their work. I feel like that is somehow linked to intuition.”
While Ohmu is fascinated to see how emerging technologies might start to replicate human abilities such as intuitive making, for now she says she is harnessing our special suite of powers: curiosity, playfulness, empathy and observation.
“I have no doubt the technology is developing exponentially. That is why I like to keep my practice evolving, not only for my own intellectual stimulation, but also as a creative practitioner. I need to keep my finger on the pulse of what is happening.”
Part of that has included her research on the organ pipe mud dauber wasp which, she discovered, coils mud during nest-making in the same way humans have long made coiled pots. With their machine-like buzz, these wasps also evoked the hum of the 3D printer.
“A part of me lit up [at] this deep interconnectedness not only between us and the natural world but also with the machine world. Machines come from us and we are nature. The world is a giant web. If you touch one bit it will ripple out to other parts of the web. The wasps build coil upon coil … it brought me such joy and delight.” Andrew Stephens
Melbourne Now is at NGV Australia, March 24 – August 20, free. ngv.vic.gov.au
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