Something Remains - July 2013
Artist - Elizabeth Bevan-Parrella, Cherie Redwood & Renate Nisi
Author - Heath Campbell
A small, plain white curtain of varnish-skin sways in the breeze of the open gallery door. The light from a projector casts the ghostly shadow of an imperceptible image onto the curtain, pulsing, ethereal - vibrating in and out of focus.
This artefact is the first to draw my eye as I enter FELTspace, engaging and purposefully opaque in its meaning, it is my welcoming committee come to say hi on behalf of its makers.
Exhibiting together for the first time, Adelaide locals, Elizabeth Bevan-Parrella, Cherie Redwood, and Renate Nisi give us Something Remains; a playful study of materials and objects, and their facility to affect us.
Nature has been gently transposed to the interior of FELTspace; lush greenery and eerie soundscapes creep in the dark, bones spring forth from the earth, and skeletal plants grow, seemingly, from mid-air.
And there's toffee and a lava lamp!
"It's a bit more wacky and idiosyncratic than the title suggests," Libby said when I spoke with the trio a few days before the exhibition opening.
It sure is.
The exhibition draws, in part, on the work of artists like Eva Hesse; pushing materials to their limits with experimentation, Barry Le Va and Yoko Ono; creators investigating materials and artefacts as part of their cultural significance.
A sense of playful experimentation is woven throughout Something Remains, along with a close examination into the process of making-by-hand as a method of philosophical enquiry.
The act of making engages a connection to the materials through sensory perception; touch, sight, smell, sounds, and the incumbent conscious reflection attached.
The theme of connection runs deep throughout this show - a connection between the viewer, the materials, and the space.
Tasked with creating this exhibition as a reaction to the gallery space, the artists simply explored and were driven by feelings, towards the formation of ideas.
It was, in fact, the space itself which gave life to their ideas.
"You have a feeling about something before you can formulate a judgement; it’s not the other way around. Rather than having an idea that results in a feeling," Renate explained.
Feelings also played a major role in the distribution of the artefacts throughout the space.
On multiple occasions, the placement of the objects was decided by the artefacts themselves; communicating their preference in some unseen way to the trio.
"I think that is why it’s so driven by materials because it’s a feeling response to materials and how they come together," Cherie added.
On speaking with the artists, it seemed the outcomes themselves were less important than the series of events which gave rise to each of them.
The back room of the gallery was freezing cold the first morning the artists visited. It was cold and empty, and the echoes of the people and the voices coming from the building behind could be heard through the walls.
It was quite a ghostly room, with these murmurings coming through the wall," Libby said of their first experience of the space.
Starting with a cold, empty space, the trio went about changing the whole atmosphere in the room by creating an island of lush, green plant-life.
An electric-green lava lamp provides the light source in the darkened back room. Its green-blue light flickers and wriggles, like light bouncing off the surface of a lake, accentuating the living aesthetic in this space.
This life-affirming scene acts as a foil to the naked skeletal forms which inhabit the front room of the gallery.
"The antithesis of the very dry and almost still-life, dead-life forms in the front room - a very lush atmosphere in that little end room," Libby explained.
It appears objects and the materials from which they are constructed are not impotent and inert; they have the power to act upon us.
The artefacts in the exhibition utilise this power; communicating to us how to move through the space, and how to act within the confines of the gallery.
As Daniel Miller states, "Much of what makes us what we are exists, not through our consciousness or body, but as an exterior environment that habituates and prompts us."
Something Remains tells a story about these three artists’ practices which have recently collided and are continually evolving.
"In the end it’s about who we are, where we've come from, and our relationship; a sense of fun, playing and creating, and solving problems together," Libby said.