A writer sharing travels, experiences, a love of festivals & events. Life is a journey and I hope to inspire others. Visit my blog at https://www.travelwithirenke.blogspot.com
Wanton, Wild & Unimagined is a very unique art exhibition of playful sculptures that uses plastic bottles and their lids. It's colourful and interesting, and is currently touring Australia, thanks to Museums & Galleries Queensland, the government's Visions of Australia program and organiser Umbrella Studio.
The artist is Alison McDonald and she hates waste. She grew up in a family of artists surrounding her and has collected and recycled items over a period of several years. She is passionate about the environment and with this exhibition she stirs the imagination and evokes reflection on plants and the ocean, and how we can reduce our carbon footprint by turning waste into something spectacular. I would certainly not be throwing these sculptures away when I'm done with them. They could be recycled over and over again.
The exhibition is visible in Sydney at one location – Hurstville Museum & Gallery. As you walk into the museum and through to the main gallery showroom, you are welcomed with a mass of colour. Flow is the name of this piece that first catches your eye. You may have seen it before. It appeared one year at Bondi's outdoor Sculpture by the Sea exhibition. Here it has been placed like a curtain flowing from the ceiling. Made of plastic drink bottle caps (30,000 of them) strung together with cable ties, it was years in the making and consists of caps from numerous locations, including the 2000 Sydney Olympics. To the artist it represents a blanket that smothers all underneath it, highlighting the clogging of our waterways.
This is not the only sculpture made of lids either. A smaller sculpture, called Trickle, was individually hand-cast and involved wiring together lids that had been reduced to a smaller version of themselves. In the shape of waves, my interpretation is that this represents the trickle of plastic rubbish into our oceans. Another piece nearby is Global, a plastic inflatable beach ball covered in bottle lids collected from around the world. Aptly named, one can perceive it as a statement of trash being a global issue and not just one on our shores.
The other side of the room sees sculptures using the bottles and the necks of them, rather than the lids. Plants come into focus here and the inspiration for these pieces came from John Wyndham's novel, The Day of the Triffids. I remember reading and enjoying this sci-fi book many years ago in school and later on saw an interpretation of it on film. If you're not familiar with the story, it can best be described as a post-apocalyptic world where most people have been blinded by a meteor shower. An aggressive species of predatory plant (the triffid), that can walk and communicate, then begins a killing spree on humans and a taking over of planet Earth. It's an interesting story with more to it and these sculptures bring to life the fictitious triffids perfectly as I remember them, tall and lunging as their 'tongues' extend out and whip those in their path with a poisonous sting. These sculptures are as exotic as the plants in the novel and come in various colours. They're overgrown as well as delicate and you're invited to look closer at the artistry and design. Many hours were spent manipulating the plastics to create this imaginary world that engages the senses in wonderment. They have won me over and are my favourite part of this showcase.
Inspired by John Wyndham's novel, The Day of the Triffids
There's a few more interesting pieces completing this exhibition, curated by Ross Searle, that carefully weave a strong sense of environmental conscience in an attempt to influence and educate. You can also learn more about the artist by viewing a video on a tablet, based on an interview given. If you would like to meet the artist in person, then you can join her too for a floor talk on 8 March at 2pm. All are welcome and afternoon tea will be provided. Bookings are essential, by either phoning 02 9330 6444 or going online.
The building that hosts this exhibition in Sydney's Hurstville is interesting in itself. Its architecture is that of an old Tudor style and reminds me of an English manor house. It has a history of first being a doctor's surgery in the 1920's, that of Dr Crackenthorp (love the name), before being home to the St George Rugby Union Club where many a party was had. Later on in 1983, it became a restaurant, MacMahon's Manor, and in 2004 the local council took over the building and it became the museum and gallery that it is today.
Hurstville Museum & Gallery - A throwback to grand manors
Housing more than one room, and in addition to temporary exhibitions, there are permanent exhibitions that focus on people, places and community. The museum also works regularly with children in workshop programs, such as Art Attack and the Dragonflies Kids' Club, and contributes to school curriculums. Entry is free to the museum/gallery and the exhibitions. See below for the address and opening days/hours. Hurstville train station is close by and, if driving, a sizeable car park is next door that allows 3hrs of free parking.
It's an impressive exhibition, to say the least, and I was a Wanton to take home some of these Wild triffids with an Unimagined way of how they would fit in my car. I urge you to visit this wonderful exhibition before it moves on to another city and state.