press release

Heather and Ivan Morison, Ben Rivers and David Thorpe use film, sculpture, installation and performance to pose questions regarding our relationship to nature and what happens when man-made and natural worlds collide. These exhibitions explore utopian beliefs and practices and an impending sense of apocalypse.

Heather and Ivan Morison will present a new body of work using objects, performance and puppetry to draw on the life and work of 20th century British novelist Anna Kavan. This new work will be framed within Anna, an allegorical piece of object theatre that depicts a tale of love in ominous and foreboding times. Anna's three narrators are represented by a large netted sphere that floats sun-like in the gallery space and two contrasting large-scale wall works, produced using soot and black bone pigment, and chalk and white bone pigment.

Other objects will be placed amongst the three narrators including a piece of lime representing a bone, cast concrete representing a wooden plank and melted church candles as beautiful flowers. This new exhibition complements the Morisons' outdoor commission for the gallery, The Black Cloud, 2011.

Ben Rivers will be showing his recent award-winning film, Slow Action. Fresh from the Viennale Film Festival, this post-apocalyptic science-fiction film comprises a series of four 16mm sections filmed on location at three island sites across the globe: Lanzarote, Gunkanjima and Tuvalu, as well as Somerset in England. Presenting a series of constructed realities, the film exists somewhere between documentary, ethnographic study and fiction, with soundtrack narratives by American novelist and critic Mark von Schlegell.

Continuing his exploration of curious and extraordinary environments, Slow Action applies the idea of island biogeography—the study of how species and eco-systems evolve differently when isolated and surrounded by unsuitable habitats—to a conception of the Earth in a few hundred years where the sea level rises to absurd heights, creating hyperbolic utopias that appear as possible future mini-societies.

David Thorpe's installation comprises new watercolours and meticulously crafted sculptural works, presented for the first time in Europe. Thorpe's sculptures explore his interest in rehabilitating ancient craftsmanship and labour-intensive artisanal techniques. Drawing on the Arts and Crafts Movement and the work of William Morris and John Ruskin, Thorpe explores new forms of utopianism, where past and present intersect.

The exhibition includes two watercolours, A Necessary Life, 2011 and Revived Pattern, 2010. The latter depicts a repeated motif of natural forms. The beautiful and stylised paintings of intertwined leaves and berries are visually analogous to a hedge or natural shield. The reference to barriers is also apparent in two 'screen' sculptures, both titled Endeavours, 2010, that stand over a metre high and are inlaid with ceramic tiles. These imposing forms create a secondary space within the gallery, one that contains and encloses the other sculptures so that the idea of a natural enclosure repeats itself in the exhibition.

Heather & Ivan Morison, Ben Rivers, David Thorpe