The current retrospective exhibition of work by Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art is a collective example of why the work of this collaborative duo is sought-after all over the world.
A combination of hard work, innovation and an obvious passion for their craft has resulted in a body of work that is as diverse as it is unique; a less-is-more approach and a refusal to compromise their artistic integrity for the sake of producing more “market-friendly” work seems to be the catalyst for the consistently refreshing and always surprising projects that populate the pair’s amazing oeuvre.
In their relatively short career, the duo have developed an international following that includes a number of collectors who wait with bated breath for their next fix of awe and wonder. Diehard fans of the Claire and Sean show will know that Gallery Barry Keldoulis in Sydney, which represents the artists, is the place to go for the next instalment of their artistic journey.
Keldoulis, who will shortly vacate his gallery space to focus on trading online and via art fairs including those of Singapore and Hong Kong, has chosen to end his shop-front days with the latest and greatest from the peripatetic pair.
Drawing on the issues surrounding the use and misuse of the ever-dwindling supply of fossil fuels, their new body of work titled Ignition is a thought-provoking investigation into a power source that we will have the pleasure of exhausting within just a few generations.
A suite of small, intimate cross-stitched tapestries depicting the consequences of both deliberate and accidental disasters caused by petroleum products are the highlight of the exhibition. The intricate weavings are, by their very nature, a poignant representation of the intricate combination of factors, or sequence of events, that lead to such events.
Beautiful to behold, the titles of the pixelated images are the only real indication of the sinister subject matter. If you didn’t know that you were looking at an act of self-immolation, or the destruction of the twin-towers in progress, the likelihood of identifying the iconic scenes is almost zero.
Just as the news footage of the horrific events depicted in the tapestries is disturbing as well as being a reminder to be thankful that the only exposure we have to those events is via television coverage, Claire and Sean’s tapestries keep the viewer at arm’s length from the horror and destruction.
The use of an aesthetically pleasing and ethereal medium is an uncomfortable warning that the innocence of communities as yet unaffected by the increasingly regular incidences of natural and man-made disasters – a feeling of safety too easily taken for granted – can be snatched away in an instant.
A more light-hearted comment on the unnecessarily vast range of motor vehicle designs that are one of the main culprits in the depletion of global fossil fuel reserves, Claire and Sean’s “Autoflakes” are intriguing and engrossing.
Mounted onto the gallery walls using magnets are a dazzling array of contemporary and vintage matchbox-sized model cars arranged in intricate snowflake-like patterns. There one minute, gone the next, the pleasure of a beautiful snowflake can only be experienced for a short period of time before it disappears.
Relatively speaking, the period of time in which we have almost exhausted the supply of fossil fuels is just as short as the lifespan of the snowflake. In a matter of decades, the human race has greedily consumed one of the earth’s most precious resources with as little disregard for the future as a child has for a toy car once the novelty and excitement has worn off.
Claire and Sean’s Ignition show can be viewed by appointment at Gallery Barry Keldoulis . For more information visit http://www.gbk.com.au