Using a theme of light, colour and shadow, six public artists scale down for the exhibition Dispersion at Zig Zag Art Gallery in Kalamunda. 



Phil Gamblen, Adam Cruickshank, Pavel Perino, Sam Hopkins, curator Briony Bray and Leanne Bray with Lost and Founded, plywood and chair parts by Pavel Perina, and Spirit within, 2023, perspex by Leanne Bray at Zig Zag Cultural Centre in Kalamunda. Photo Lyn DiCiero. 

On show at Zig Zag Gallery in Kalamunda, Dispersion celebrates the diverse application of skills from artists whose works can be seen gracing our towns and suburbs in shared public spaces. Briony Bray, curator of the City of Kalamunda run gallery space says just as light disperses, art has its own process of dispersing to create an array of ideas, processes and effects. “The exhibition is an important part of the education process in bringing awareness and demonstrating the complexities and skills behind the artworks we see in our everyday lives,” she says. “A closer look at the artworks in this exhibition allows viewers to gain a deeper appreciation for the artworks scattered throughout our towns.”

For many in the show, it’s been an opportunity to luxuriate in experimentation on a considerably smaller scale, or return to earlier themes, far from the restrictions of working to public art briefs. For Sam Hopkins, the exhibition has provided a focus to further his experimentation in metal inflation. Often unpredictable, it’s a method of inflating steel using pressurised air and water, transforming flat unpliable steel into more organic, fluid forms. “You get some nice surprises and some bad surprises,” says Hopkins. “The work for this show is the first time I’ve used colour, so that’s a big thing for me, and I usually use two sheets of metal, but this time I’ve used five.” Hopkins has also ventured into the kinetic, placing the work on a slowly rotating plinth. Together with gallery lighting, the highly polished, mirrored sculpture reflects on the surrounding walls, resulting in a fascinating interplay of light and colour in the gallery environment. 

The idea of sculpture bringing together light, colour and shadow was a theme high on Bray’s list for the show. “The exhibition really focuses on the external effect of an artwork,” says Bray. “It’s in the shadows that an intricate form creates, the colour reflected off an object, the glow emanating from a piece and the physics of weight. These resulting effects allow for a celebration of the space around the artwork.” 

Indeed Leanne Bray’s works, geometric patterns created from brightly coloured Perspex, extend outside their elegant physical presence with complex shadows and colours appearing on their plinths and beyond, and Sally Stoneman’s works created with found fencing wire and mulga branches from the Yalgoo district naturally also throw shadows while referencing the timeless harsh beauty and history of our continent. Adam Cruickshank’s Heat Wave employs the latest advancements in CAD modelling and CNC (Computer Numerical Control) production to create a 3D wall work with LED lighting, providing an exquisite warm glow permeating both inside and around the work. A public artist whose portfolio includes furniture, lighting and product design, Cruickshank’s work is held in collections such as Wesfarmers, Janet Holmes à Court and Louis Vuitton, and continues to be featured in publications such as Vogue and Habitus. 

Lost and Founded by Pavel Perina, consisting of plywood and chair parts, marks a defining moment in Australia’s skies, mapping the exact night sky in Botany Bay on Sunday 29 April 1770 when the First Fleet arrived. “I inverted the colours,” says Perina, “so the stars are black and the sky is white, as an interpretation of the positive and negative connotations of Captain Cook’s landing. Thanks to technology we are able to precisely tell the positions of the stars at a particular place and time, even going backwards. It is exactly what the stars looked like during the flag raising that first evening.”

For Phil Gamblen, the exhibition provided and opportunity to revisit earlier themes in his practice, and go back to basics. Working with geometric form, pattern and structure has become a dominant aesthetic in his work, leading to science/technology-based projects. Three stone and steel works in Dispersion show experimentation with more traditional elements. “It’s an attempt to keep something separate from public art, and get on with some playing around in the studio,” he says. “It’s really good just to be making stuff by hand, welding and grinding, combining both man-made and natural aesthetics.” 

Leanne Bray has designed seven storey high public artworks and stitched tiny vessels with her own hair, but she says the opportunity to work with Perspex was super exciting. “Early in my public art career I tried to use Perspex in a project on power poles. It was my one big public art disaster because it’s just not suitable for outdoors and doesn’t engineer very well, but to use it for an inside work is exciting,” she says. “The works meet my obsession for pattern making, and the methodical process of mapping it out, and I love the shadows and patterns it casts as it bounces around the space.” 

Bray also has the distinction of being the City of Kalamunda’s inaugural artist to be commissioned under the Percent for Art Scheme. “Through artist talks, the exhibition enables me to continue conversations I started with the community a year ago when the public artwork was installed, so it’s a nice little route to engage with them again.”  

Dispersion continues at Zig Zag Art Gallery until 4 June. 

Fluidity of Light, stainless steel, aluminium and electronics, 58 x 200 x 55cm, including integrated plinth, 2023, by Sam Hopkins. 

Infinity ii, 2023, knitted copper wire by Sally Stoneman, Harvey, 2023, steel, stone by Phil Gamblen, and Refraction,  2023, dichroic perspex by Leanne Bray.


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