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Sculpture and material practice

Expands the poetic and political agency of the object
Forging new poetic hybrids and material assemblages within contemporary art that shift our perceptions of what an object can be and what it is capable of.

Researchers working in Sculpture and Material Practice at Sydney College of the Arts are committed to interdisciplinary and multimodal, practice-based research that encompasses the full spectrum of making from highly processed objects through to the most ephemeral post-object art.

Conscious of the urgency of our times, our researchers advance this mode of practice by addressing the political agency of objects and innovating traditional notions of space and materiality. The artists within this group create a diverse range of projects drawing on the fields of public art, jewellery, sculpture, craft and technical studies, urban design, sound and media art.

Our researchers collaborate with industry and community partners across the fields of 3d visualisation, fabrication technologies and rapid prototyping to invent processes and produce revelatory objects and experiences.


Hush, Hush

Sanne Mestrom, Senior Lecturer, Visual Arts

Hush Hush (2018) is a series of concrete and bronze sculptural forms that use the figure as a catalyst for exploring the ways in which our culture constructs identities, social positions and values. Exhibited in TarraWarra Biennial 2018: From Will to Form at the TarraWarra Museum of Art, the work continues Sanne Mestrom’s exploration of gravity as a force that defines both the limitations and the potential of any sculptural practice. Mestrom considers the work as an ode to both the potential and the limitations of matter, linking the body to the very spaces that contain and frame it.


Notes for Olfactory (White Whale)

David Haines, Senior Lecturer, Visual Art

Olfactory (White Whale) is a conceptual artwork that presents long passages of original writing by the artist framed behind glass in the tradition of an image; however, the only ‘images’ that appear in the work come from the vivid and highly charged scenarios described within the text. Drawing from many sources of information on the subject of Ambergris, a perfume and culinary material that comes from the excretions of sperm whales, the artist tells a fable that traces the passage of Ambergris from its origins floating on the surface of the sea to the artificial ambergris that is synthesised in the laboratory from coal tars and pandanus sap. Haines composed an ambergris perfume in his aroma laboratory that puts the viewer in touch with the very material that is being written about in the work, creating an uncanny experience between the reality of the actual smell against the abstraction of the text.


Bone, Tooth, Claw, Periapts

Oliver Smith, Undergraduate Coursework Coordinator

Periapts: Bone, Tooth, Claw by researcher Oliver Smith is a collection of wearable objects that embody the origins of archetypal forms of jewellery. Smith has developed a process that includes handcrafting forms in metal, 3D scanning and printing, and translation back into metal through a lost wax investment casting process. This exploration into historical and contemporary methods of communicating through technology has been combined with an investigation into figurative representation and zoomorphic symbology. Periapts; Bone, Tooth, Claw seeks to develop our understanding of the role of material agency within the process of creating objects.


Stories with Endings Changed

Michael Doolan, Lecturer, Visual Art

Exhibited at Jan Manton Art (Qld), Stories with Endings Changed (2018) is a body of sculptural work based on notions of the uncanny and childhood memories of small antique glass and ceramic figurines that continues Michael Doolan's interest in the relationship of memory and objects in his practice. The artist uses a combination of ceramics, aluminium, fibreglass and gloss-automotive paint to create kaleidoscopic optical effects on two-dimensional mirror surfaces that play on their three-dimensional sculptural form, prompting a sense of disorientation in the onlooker.


Floric Antenna 1 & Floric Antenna 2

Joyce Hinterding, Director of Research

Floric Antenna 1 & Floric Antenna 2 are energy scavenging loop antenna derived from a study of the growth pattern seen in orange lichen found when walking in the Wollemi region of the greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. The graphic energy scavenging loop antenna utilises the conductivity in the conventional drawing material graphite as well as the electromagnetic principle of induction. In this way, the work is both an "energy drawing" and "drawing energy", caught between the representation and the functionality of drawing. Using custom audio leads, these diagrams are connected to an amplifier to reveal the interior electromagnetic flow within the drawing. Exhibited in Hot Electrons at Sarah Cottier Gallery in 2018.


Emotional Algorithms

Jan Guy, Lecturer, Ceramics

Produced and exhibited while in residency at Sean Gallery in Hong Kong in 2018, the ceramic forms in Emotional Algorithms are based on Lecturer Jan Guy’s personal experience of the residency location and the processes of discovering new sounds, smells, light, and gestures in the fibres in her environment. Guy’s methodology is based on the directness of haptic communication enabled through ceramics practice and allowing unexpected and brief encounters within a context to become the creative and conceptual focus of a work, translating lived experience into ceramic form.