The assemblages in this exhibition are kinetic. On winding the work, shadows of figures move past the window blinds. The work was made for the Suburban Noir exhibition at the Museum of Sydney, curated by author and historian Peter Doyle, in response to a series of police forensic photographs of Greater Sydney from the 50′s and 60′s. Also participating in the exhibition were Vanessa Berry, Dallas Bray, Rhett Brewer, Charles Cooper, Theresa Darmody, Bruce Latimer, Michael Lewy, Frank Littler, Reg Mombassa, Peter O’Doherty, Ken Searle, Susannah Thorne and Anne Wallace.
This exhibition was curated by Rilka Oakley and plays with the parallels found between the artist collecting for creative inspiration and the tourist collecting souvenirs as a reminder of place. Just as artists (and tourists) travel to the Blue Mountains to capture the stunning views and magnificent landscape, travel to other places is key to the creative process of many of the artists who live and work there. Other artists in the exhibition include David Brazil, Elaine Campaner, Ona Janzen, Mathew Lynn, Judith Martinez, Brad Moore, Janelle Randall-Court, Wendy Tsai and Kayo Yokoyama.
The keepsake plays an important role in my own art practice. I search for objects that I feel are imbued with a certain meaning – especially old toys, dolls and marionettes – and use them to create a narrative. The narrative is often based on fairytales, myths or popular culture – the toys become the characters and the old tins, boxes and containers become the stage. This new context alters the toys meaning and allows me to juxtapose notions of childhood, innocence and wonder against adult themes of desire, fear and death. I often cut up the toys and reconstruct them with handmade mechanisms and create motion and sound by using music-box movements. Wind a key and a ventriloquist dummy’s head will rotate like a fairground clown from Luna Park – or the maiden, Europa, might ride a bucking bull whilst her handmaiden twirls with surprise.
Briteway Soldier, 2011, 17x12x12cm, music box assemblage
Di Holdsworth’s new assemblages explore themes of the circus. With music-boxes and hand-made mechanisms she has automated vintage toys and marionettes. The works are constructed in old boxes and tins and are reminiscent of carnival automata and arcade games from the past.
Combining circus characters with those from myths, fairytales and popular culture, the cast in Holdsworth’s assemblages includes clowns, aerialists, circus animals, mermaids, Icarus, Little Red Riding Hood, a princess, Superman and the Devil.
Holdsworth juxtaposes notions of fear, danger, desire and sexuality, against innocence, whimsy and wonder. Wind up one of her works and a clown might embrace Little Red Riding Hood or a trapeze artist might spin, dangling by one leg, from a rope above the body of Superman.