The Melbourne Now exhibition has provided the perfect opportunity to profile some very interesting new works by artists whose practice is centered on the creation of innovative textiles.
Douglas McManus is one such artist, with a significant history of experimental textile practice in the areas of digital printing and nanotechnology. Most recently he has employed laser cutting, engraving and ink technologies as a means to produce and embellish textile works. For Melbourne Now, McManus has created a brand new installation work based on his exploration of subtractive processes using laser surfacing – that is, a combination of laser cutting, engraving, perforation and thermo moulding.
Permanent extraction, 2013, uses the acanthus leaf pattern as a template to create three-dimensional organs – heart and lungs. The sculptural forms are influenced by Victorian Gothic architectural decoration and stencil art in the laneways of inner-city Melbourne. McManus has pushed this piece further by incorporating fibre optics, mono filament and malleable fluoro neon tubing. The heart and lungs on the walls are programmed to react to sound, creating a work that glows and rises and subsides as if breathing. Its title references the stages of permanent loss of chemical receptors associated with degenerative neurological conditions.
Lucy Irvine on the other hand has developed a sculptural practice that explores her experiences and memory of landscape. Her expansive organic works are made from industrial materials, woven incrementally and secured by tiny cable-tie ‘stitches’. The forms of the enveloping structures are driven by process and articulate a tension between order and chaos.
For Melbourne Now Irvine has constructed a large site-specific work at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Before the after, 2013, which establishes a dialogue with the gallery building, its architecture and the temporality of the exhibition. Spilling out across the floor, the serpentine form is an interruption of the order of things; a writhing obsidian mass that clings to the interior of the building. At the same time the work is a nuanced meditation on the nature of surfaces and skin.