‘Reclining Viewers’ is a tentative slip into the waters of installation art I have been wanting to swim in for a long time. My artist’s practice is concerned with the notion of love and moments of softness, safety as well as confusion and rawness experienced in human intimacy. Through the painting medium I utilise vibrant colour and distorted imagery to express these human interactions as they are linked, to sensation, instinct and emotion. In ‘Reclining Viewers’ this practice is used, with emphasis on the environment in which these paintings can be looked at and digested.
The spread of Covid and resulting ‘lockdowns’ of self-isolation over the last three years have forced a de- familiarisation with art galleries.
However, this distance has allowed me to consider gallery spaces with greater objectivity. Returning to these spaces post lockdown, I noticed a feeling of discomfort. The act of walking up to visual, two-dimensional works hung on bare, looming walls created a sensation of feeling closed in on. I have often felt pushed to move quickly through the gallery or visually consume one artwork after the next. This is not an ideal way to engage with art or allow for receptivity to how the work makes one feel. Reflecting on this, I seek to introduce a space which enriches the experience of engaging with artworks, and shifts the traditional expectation that the viewer is standing and facing art on the wall.
In ‘Reclining Viewers’, viewers are able to sit, recline or roll around on a cushioned/carpeted floor to look at the works. I seek to encourage the audience to engage with my work in mirroring the reclining positions I depict in my figurative paintings, in a space that feels more domestic and comfortable than the conventional gallery space. Sounds and scent also play a key role in this exhibition. Soft, distorted loop- based sounds scapes, made with electric guitar and guitar effect pedals, were created in response to the paintings in this exhibition, and to weave a celestial and fluid ambience within the space. An essential oil used commonly in my life is infused within the carpet, inviting the viewer to use their senses and take in the space within the present moment.
With major inspiration from the Escher x Nendo ‘Between Two Worlds’ exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria in 2018-2019, the works of Arthur Boyd, Francis Bacon, Ai Wei Wei and Christo Javacheff, I have sought to create an intimate, and comfortable space whereby art can be viewed at a slower pace, allowing for vulnerability and a depth of sensory experience.