Beverley Iles: Fundamentally Unstable (3 sites)
Location Convent Gallery
From Saturday 28 October 2017 - 10:00am
To Sunday 03 December 2017 - 04:00pm
Exhibition opening Friday 27 October, 6pm.
Fundamentally Unstable is an ongoing project by Perth based artist Beverley Iles which has been developed in response to the exploration of contaminated sites, particularly three sites where soil has been contaminated through industrial processes. Two of these are downstream from the Midland Railway Workshops and proximate to land undergoing rehabilitation as a former CSBP agricultural chemical production and storage site in Ashfield. The third site is along Koombana Bay Drive, Bunbury, where its former use as a railway corridor have led to deposits of mineral sands tailings with elevated levels of gamma radiation. All 3 sites have links back to water: the Helena River, underground water near the Swan River and Koombana Bay. The sites are listed on the Department of Environment Regulations Contaminated Sites database.
The artworks themselves consist of a series of small cast concrete based objects and assemblages which give a passing nod to the culture and materiality of industry. Teetering awkwardly, absurd stacks play with ideas of balance and material failures: cracking, then patched, as site specific soils and clays introduce fragility; slumping and dispersing to accommodate seemingly floating objects; sagging and bloating bodily inside cardboard boxes; accumulating fragments to form an uncomfortable whole. The works playfully subvert our preconceptions about concrete as a monumental, stable and ubiquitous construction material, so often used to encase contaminants over a long period of time.
Material choices are accessible and, with found objects and bursts of industrial colour, reinforce concepts around balance, stability, gravity, containment, intrusion and control. The use of site specific soils, site specific waste and the process of layering, act to document a site and highlight the insecurity of permanence and place. Heavy metal soil contaminants such as copper, lead and aluminium are made apparent as surface treatments. A handmade, makeshift aesthetic contradicts industrial form, scale and surface predictability.
The works display an evident love of materiality and are humourous, lighthearted, open ended and ludicrous, which encourages engagement on behalf of the viewer and allows viewers to find their own path through the subject matter. These tensions inherent in the works allow us to examine the precarious relationship between ourselves and the physical world, in which we are embedded. The works manifest an expressive and destabilising counterpoint to economic and industrial certainty through contemplating the complexities in this incongruous alloy of parts.
Image: Beverley Iles, Fundamentally Unstable 2016 (detail), 2016, concrete with site specific soil, timber, rope, polyeurathane, acrylic and aerosol paint, copper foil, found objects, mesh, installation approx. 600 x 200 x 150 cm.
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