ABDUL-RAHMAN ABDULLAH, KATE BEYNON,HELEN BRITTON, SAI-WAI FOO, HANNAH GARTSIDE, NIHARIKA HUKKU, JUMAADI
22 November 2018 – 3 February 2019
Co-curated by Joanna Bosse and Vipoo Srivilasa
LUCKY NUMBER 7
The concept of a lucky charm has endured across cultures, religions and timespans. Throughout the ages humans have found solace and power through relationships with special objects. Superstitions, rituals, amulets and charms provide mental focus during times of anxiety, and objects imbued with a spiritual meaning contain a supernatural aura of influence – a conceptual weight that sets them apart from being merely trinkets.
The exhibition ‘Lucky charm’, co-curated by ceramic artist Vipoo Srivilasa, brings together seven contemporary artists from differing cultural backgrounds who work across a range of craft-based media including sculpture, textiles, jewellery, paper, ceramics and leather. The practices of artists Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, Kate Beynon, Helen Britton, Sai-Wai Foo, Hannah Gartside, Niharika Hukku and Jumaadi variously engage, either directly or obtusely, with the mythology of luck, superstitions, charms, and portentous symbols, and explore with these symbolic meanings within different cultural frameworks.
Sai-Wai Foo’s practice is imbued with the magic of nostalgia. She creates small-scale monuments to the past using cut and folded paper, found objects, thread, pins and, often, fragments of enamel and ceramic dolls. Her works evoke nineteenth century museum collections through the use of glass domes and silver stands, but what is most powerfully evocative of the era are her masses of pleated paper forms, which recall the layers of fabric frills adorning petticoats in nineteenth century fashion. The notion of adornment as a highly communicative language both in personal and public spheres is central to Sai-Wai’s series of new works for ‘Lucky charm’. These works respond to the history of wearing charms as signifiers of meaning.
The figure in her two-part work titled Our Lady (2018) is emblazoned with delicate layers of found silver charms, the tiny metal shapes creating a perfectly poised cloak of armour. A trained fashion designer and illustrator, Sai-Wai is a bricoleur who collects discarded and redundant materials and objects in order to give them a new life through her sculptural practice.
Her works in the exhibition give a new precious value to what was once cherished but since discarded; the surface patina of the objects and fragility of the aged paper reminds us of the fragile impermanence of the body and the solace we gain in the imagined longevity of those special items we hold close.
The concept for this exhibition was generated from a conversation between myself and co-curator Vipoo Srivilasa about the idea of the Kiln God – the ancient practice of calling on a deity to ensure the successful firing of the kiln. This superstition remains current for potters throughout the world, and is an example of the happy co-joining of the supernatural and the scientific within the creative field. Vipoo Srivilasa directly refers to this tradition in his altarpiece titled Four Repairers (2018), installed in the collaborative installation Luck Hall, which he and fellow artist Sai- Wai Foo have created to accompany the exhibition. Luck Hall is an immersive and festive installation which the artists’ describe as a place that ‘allows us to take the positive joyful aspects of the change and the growth within ourselves’. A series of workshops with community members will produce hundreds of charms that will become part of the installation and future keepsakes for the makers – an object that evokes the good feeling that the creative process can generate and, hopefully, some good luck too.
Bayside Gallery, Bayside City Council
Excerpts from Lucky Charm catalogue