Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Barely Wearable at Gympie

It's high time I caught up on a few of my Gallery Visit Blogs - so let's start with a fab exhibition at Gympie Regional Gallery way back in February - April ...

               The Gympie Regional Gallery is housed in the 1905 School of Arts building ...


Barely Wearable is is a traveling exhibition of body adornment for the age of over-consumption by Sydney-based sculptor Ruth Downes


This body of work is a continuation of Ruth Downes’ passion for reappropriating everyday materials and objects to celebrate their intrinsic beauty. Materials for these thirty ‘wearable’ artworks have been gleaned from a diverse range of sources – from aircraft headsets to coffee capsules. Detritus from nature has also been salvaged to be re-born as a fashion statement.

Hard Wired Mouse - computer keyboard parts, adapters & mouse


Caffeinated - used coffee pods & neoprene

Hi Vis Couture - safety barrier netting & mesh netting

Tickle the Ivories - piano keys, felt & wire

Lippy Galore - lipsticks, lip gloss & compact mirror

By re-imagining these materials, she has created works that transcend their utilitarian function, casting them in a fresh light. The works question our accepted values and how we award status by projecting these everyday materials into the realm of art. They have a preciousness that confounds our expectations irrespective of their humble origins. This is much more than a simple ‘up-cycling’ exercise – Downes has an acute awareness of the potential of these materials. Her trademark humour also runs as a thread throughout the exhibition adding a further dimension.

A Wheel Within a Wheel - plastic caps & sprues

Transmission - hammered aluminium transmission wire

Brazarre - bra under wires and hooks, strainers, mesh & clips

Lunar Orbits - copper wire

These 3D works are mounted on a spectrum of coloured ellipses (350 – 750mm high) with several ‘busting out’ on mounted body forms. Some works are augmented by photo portraits of models (of varying sizes and gender) attempting to make them wearable. 

Light me up - redundant light bulbs, electrical cable & ducting

Pencil me in - graphite pencils, erasers & coated wire

Hear Me Out - CD discs, stainless steel wire & alligator clips

Domino Effect - timber dominoes

Hanging in the Balance - coat hangers, wire & teflon tape

Six Pack Dreaming - beer bottle caps & beer can six-pack holders

I'm all ears - reject head sets, coated wire & felt

Wired for Sound - ear buds & plastic cable ducting

Stitched Up - timber knitting needles & plastic coated copper wire

34b For a Warrior Princess - stainless steel chocolate melting pots

All Stirred Up - birch ply disposable spoons

Hose Me Down - garden hose and fittings & acrylic ball

Out Damned Spot - single use toiletries, plastic caps & tube

Hard Boiled - plastic egg, egg cups & wire springs

Nature's Laurel - Jacaranda needles, pods & linen thread

Bound to go astray - palm fruit stalks & linen thread

Pining For Support - Norfolk Island Pine

The Halo Effect - Jacaranda needles & coated wire

Mixed Fruit and Veg - mesh produce bags, pvc & neoprene trim
Over three years the Ruth Downes’ Barely Wearable exhibition will be on the road in Eastern Australia. It can be seen in eight galleries in Sydney and Hunter and South Coast NSW, as well as in Brisbane and regional Queensland.


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