Underland is the newest artistic collaboration from Sydney-based artists Jane Gillings and Lucy Barker … produced with a little help from staff at the Brookfield head office!
Between January and March 2020, Brookfield staff participated in this unique art project by collecting waste materials from their day-to-day office activities. From coffee cups to computer keyboards, telephones and stationery, not much ended up in landfill.
The materials were collected fortnightly and taken to Lucy and Jane’s Central Coast studio. Here the artists worked together to sort, wash, cut, heat, bend and transform the items, converting them into new and interesting forms, some of which have become unrecognisable in the resulting artwork depicting an underwater landscape. This technique engages the audience, challenging them to decipher the materials used and consider their role in consumerism and overconsumption.
With Underland, Lucy and Jane have created a colourful, thought-provoking installation that includes painting and mixed media sculpture, repurposing hundreds of different used objects. With the exception of some of the screws, the entire piece is composed of salvaged materials – even the plywood base was saved from landfill.
Using these materials, particularly plastic, highlights the environmental issues associated with their disposal. As regular swimmers and surfers, Jane and Lucy share a love of the ocean and a concern for marine habitats, which bear the brunt of global plastic pollution. This artwork was partly inspired by their local snorkelling spot as well as the underwater photography of Helen Walne, who is a free diver in South Africa and shares her work on Instagram.
Jane Gillings has been a practicing artist for over 30 years, working with a variety of materials, most notably recycled and found objects. Painting, drawing, printmaking and traditional sculptural techniques also have an important place in her art making.
Lucy Barker is an artist and designer whose practice often focuses on the relationship between our digital and physical worlds, and the intersection of the two. Play and materiality are an important part of her process, as she involves the audience in non-traditional ways and spaces.
Simultaneously compelling and confronting, Underland aims to awaken the audience to their own contribution to the pervasive problem of waste.
Underland is curated and produced by aMBUSH Gallery and presented by Arts Brookfield at their King Street head office in Sydney.
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Jane Gillings & Lucy Barker