De-construction and re-construction are all around us as Melbourne undergoes one of the biggest transport development projects in its history. Familiar buildings have disappeared, huge holes have been dug, hoardings block streets and temporary structures appear from nowhere. Such short-term dysfunction is necessary to construct a modern and efficient urban rail system.
The nine Creativity Cluster artists are using this theme to mean breaking something down or pulling it apart, then rebuilding or restoring it. We chose De-Construction/Re-Construction because we are experiencing it on the very doorstep of the Dirty Dozen, where the exhibition was held from 19 October – 28 November 2020.
We are experimenting with De-Construction/Re-Construction, each in our own way. Using our chosen medium, we have responded to one or more of the questions: How is the current de-construction and re-construction in the city symbolised in my art? In what other ways is this theme symbolised in our culture more widely, or in different cultures? In what ways do my works show how they are broken down into, or are built back up again, from their separate parts?
Watch the video interview about the exhibition with Creativity Cluster facilitator Nancy Lane for the Victorian Seniors Festival reimagined.
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The Cracks That Bind Us
I had a very different notion of the de-construction/re-construction theme when initially considering this exhibition. Since then, the world has been taken down quite a different path. We are now in times of suspension and transition. Covid-19 has revealed cracks within our social fabric at the personal, community, national and global level.
My work is influenced by the ancient practice of Kintsugi, a philosophy not of replacement, but of awe, reverence and restoration. The gold-filled cracks of a once-broken item are a testament to its history, its strength. A fitting allegory, as people pine for the past and have hopes and fears for a post Covid-19 future. More than returning to ‘normal’ we need to hold the fragile pieces together so that society becomes whole, stronger and kinder.
De-Construction/Re-Construction Takes Many Forms
Deconstruction/Reconstruction takes many forms. In addition to demolishing and rebuilding, we can preserve and repair the things we have constructed, or use them for alternative purposes. Sometimes they also take on symbolic meaning.
- A wall was constructed around Derry in Ireland to protect the population. It’s now a symbol of freedom in a city of the “Troubles”.
- In this abstract view, the river will flow over, the cars will flow under, with re-construction.
- Harlequins are figures designed to make us laugh. Too much of a good thing, and things fall apart.
- This barn was originally designed to garage farm vehicles. De-constructing by nature, it is more suited to the roosting of poultry.
- This fishing boat in dry dock is being repaired in Essaouira, Morocco.
Light at the End of the Tunnel
Looking towards the future whilst acknowledging the expensive construction package, road maps, delaying tactics, when the lights go back on, until finally enjoying the artistic energy involved.
Luna Cameron-Parrish (Amethyst Moon)
The Whole Is More Than the Sum of Its Parts
To de-construct something implies that a thing was first of all constructed. That it was once an original. A thing new, born of necessity/desire/ curiosity or any number of reasons. Why then do we take that thing that has been made, demolish it/pull it apart and then re-build or put it back together again? Perhaps it comes from our need to understand how things work, or perhaps a need to constantly improve, refine and re-invent ourselves – to become better.
Flinders Street Station: City Icon
A vintage postcard was the inspiration for these artworks which reflect the beauty and humour that can be found in our utilitarian urban environment.
I have used collage to deconstruct elements of Melbourne’s iconic railway station and reconstruct them to form a new artistic narrative reflecting the architectural beauty, historic significance and cute urban myths that enrich our lives.
A meeting place for over one hundred years with a resident ghost. The ghost is a fisherman according to witnesses, but seen here in his Sunday best.
Nancy D Lane (NancyDee Sculptures)
Arising from the Waste
As a found object assemblage sculptor, I am acutely aware of the waste created when buildings are torn down and others are constructed in their place. Streets and laneways near such construction sites, as well as skips located on public property, are a ready source of my art supplies.
In this exhibition, I have used wood and metal materials found near sites of de-construction and re-construction to create a cityscape of the imagination. Alongside are more abstract works, incorporating components integral to building infrastructure. Amazingly, some components were sent to me by Instagram friends from halfway across the world.
My photography is inspired by the beauty and wonder of the natural and constructed worlds around us. This has led to a heightened awareness of the infinite and amazing detail inherent in everyday things that are so familiar that we hardly see them.
In creating images for this exhibition I used the theme of construction and deconstruction as applied to both these worlds. The crane images represent the constructed world and explore the idea of an underlying or overarching framework that emphasises strength and perhaps a self-defeating rigidity. No matter how strong and imposing, these constructions will not stand the test of time.
The leaf and flower images play with the idea of deconstruction and denote both fragility and resilience. This is to show that in the natural world the very process of deconstruction is to set up the next and infinite cycle of life.
So Much More Than All of Its Parts
I have explored the theme of de-construction as a way to understand the whole.
The figures in the stained glass window by Marc Chagall come from the artist’s own interpretation of Psalm 150. The figures are celebratory with a trumpeter, cymbalist, dancer, harpist and flautist. There are creatures, angels, children and faces woven into the story.
I have also re-constructed the image of the window. To the right is my interpretation of the original as a memory of the reflection of light through the window. Below the windows are some of the various figures, depicted on glass shards using alcohol ink.
Triptych: Towards a Better … ?
As the purpose of the city deconstruction is the reconstruction of our rail system, my starting point was three versions of the familiar ‘map’ of the rail system. In two works I deconstructed the city by cutting up photos of the city. In the third work I used street and building names, reconstructed in an unfamiliar pattern. This symbolises the mix of the restored familiar and the unfamiliar new that will result from this major re-working of our city.