Lyndal Hargrave

Baby Grand

September 17 - October 1 2011

‘I am not versed in the convergence of art, music and mathematics but find myself continually drawn to this relationship." Lyndal Hargrave 2011

With rare finesse and "fierce craftsmanship" Lyndal Hargrave produces extraordinarily elegant assemblages and constructions from the debris of an industrialised culture. Reconfiguring found objects that already possess their own visual history, she gives them new meaning in an aesthetic context. In the past these materials have included wire garden edging, parquetry tiles and wooden coat hangers - one such piece won the 2010 Stan and Maureen Duke Acquisition Prize at the GCCAG. But with this current Baby Grand body of work, it is ‘the music of the spheres' that has given wings to her imagination and process. "It began with the arrival of a discarded piano to my studio," explains Hargrave. "It contained all the elements I love; timber, handmade components that appear the same but differ slightly, and my favourite colours - black, white and brown."

Hargrave says that her work "challenges the viewer's perception of items that are constantly used, though rarely considered." Contrary to other sculptural processes such as carving, modelling and casting, in assemblage the substance - or found object - precedes the idea. From the contents of the dismantled piano, Hargrave has selected an assortment of intriguing hardwood pieces to create the majority of works in the Baby Grand exhibition. The art however, is not in the origin of the parts but in the witticism and mastery of their placement. Of note is Friday Night - a group of figures whose ambiguous shapes and uncertain congress suggests a host of humorous connotations. Of a more philosophical note is the mandala-like Global Village. Also constructed from piano parts, the wire spokes attached to the variegated, little house shapes radiate both out towards the collective, wider world and inwards to a still centre. The encircling frame is incredibly wrought from the reconstituted curves of a bent-wood chair.

Suspended from the ceiling the haunting Song Towers shift softly in the eddies of times past and present. Created from antique pianola scrolls, the curling rolls of intricately perforated paper embody mute melodies. An entire scroll is utilised for each Song Tower including the original, beautifully crafted storage box with its title ribbon. The process of transmuting this material into a work of art is elaborate. Pianola scrolls are very long, varying between 8 to 20 metres in length. Hargrave unrolls a predetermined amount and the rest remains coiled on its spool. To give durability and an evocative translucency, the heavy reams of paper are stained with various substances including bitumen and turpentine, certain areas being allowed to drip while others are masked off. The work is then printed with various stencils, Indian wood blocks and even an ancient Japanese silk-screen once used in the printing of kimonos. The perforations that created the music score exist now as purely decorative elements. Finally, the Song Towers are strategically hung in groups, either by the spool or conversely, the string attached to the scroll's ‘feeder' with its triangular shape pointing heavenward. In the purity and beauty of their visual harmonics, Hargrave's works do indeed make manifest Pythagorus' mystical/mathematical theorem known as ‘the music of the spheres'. An installation of the Song Towers was exhibited, to wide acclaim, late last year in Switzerland at Galerie du Chateau, Avenches.


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