Craft ACT Gallery Two: 14 July - 26 August 2007
Text by Jas Hugonnet, May 2007
Driving my ute towards the hills of Hackett in May, I imagined the weather getting colder as I approached Bev Hogg's studio, which in retrospect was quite apt as Bev's work focuses on climate and our impact upon it. It is always great to catch up with Bev in her naturally lit studio surrounded by her ceramic birds, natural forms and exquisite collections of clay samples, test glazes, found objects and maquettes. I arrived to discuss with Bev, a recipient of an artsACT Creative Arts Fellowship in 2006, her exhibition weaving dry water as well as other opportunities the Fellowship has given her in terms of affording her the time to develop ideas and new works.
What strikes me about Bev's work is the number of levels you can approach it. As a whole her forms engage you due to their scale and colour, while it is their surrealist narrative that draws you in. When you fi nd yourself getting closer to the work, investigating the surface and colour, one is reminded of the nature of clay and its ability to be transformed through applied actions, glazes and mark making. Her skills in the technical process of her chosen medium are combined with strong convictions and thoughts relating to the environment, water issues and climate change.
Bev is always looking at and finding ways to express her concerns about environmental issues in a poetic way that engages as many people as possible. She deliberately avoids being didactic, instead opting for an approach that invites many different interpretations. While she essentially creates forms in a studio space, Bev's skill is in the way she can coax forms that slowly emerge out of this space and engage with what is around them. This is particularly evident in the studio when you see an unfi nished work in progress being hand built. When works physically appear they develop a narrative with forms that have emerged earlier. This ties in well with Bev's ideas around interconnection and the possibility of setting up a range of relationships. As her narratives develop there is a blurring of the boundaries between the sensorial and the psychological, her language becomes intuitive and her archived experiences are exposed.
Think clay, think malleability, it is this that becomes the continuous linking element in Bev's work allowing her to shift and combine ideas relating to the past, present and future. In weaving dry water trees are symbolic of water's presence and absence, almost like a conduit between the earth and sky while fl owers are represented as earth blooms, micro landforms catching water while representing fertility. At the centre of Bev's earth blooms are domestic sieves referencing the home use of land and water and implying a human presence. The four petals are equated with the elements, compass directions and seasons and as a fl oral form they symbolise the presence of water, as without it fl owers cannot develop and reproduce. What Bev creates in a gallery context is a series of forms where each one is given a position in space to offer a collective narrative. The exciting thing at the time of visiting the studio is that Bev doesn't know the final outcome and the sketching and planning will continue up until the exhibition.
Weaving dry water is multi-faceted narrative about water that is visible even in its absence. As dry air now replaces the fl ow of water the evidence of its past is carved geologically into the land and is linked to our past and future activities. At the same time her referencing of feral rabbits in the exhibition highlights their devastating impact on our environment, in a similar way to humans who knowingly continue to ignore the cries from the environment. It is Bev's intention to communicate with the viewer at a scale that engages physically with the body by getting you to walk around large works and to engage with fl oor and wall works, where there is a convergence of mankind and ecology. With eyes shifting from one visual moment to the next she encourages curiosity while offering multiple interpretations. Weaving dry water is not about one single idea but a surreal landscape in which one can travel taking on board environmental concepts with a good dose of design, abstraction and humour.
Jas Hugonnet is the Curator and Exhibitions Manager at Craft ACT.
Image credits (top to bottom)
Craft ACT is supported by the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian Government and all state and territory governments, and also gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance it receives from the Australia Council for the Arts, the Australian government's arts advisory body. Craft ACT is a member of ACDC, Australian Craft Design Centres.