Fair Play, Music Box Assemblage, 2017
The work is based on a fair ground shooting gallery and explores the whimsy and darkness of carnivals. On winding a key on the side of the cabinet a fairground tune plays on a music box whilst a conveyor belt moves and the ducks become moving targets. The Kewpie Dolls in the top layer are prizes for the shooting gallery and run the risk of a stray bullet. The vintage Kewpie Dolls in the kitchen appear to be preparing a meal of roast duck and vegetables. There is a hidden rifle in the corner of the kitchen.
Five new music box assemblages are in a group exhibition at Stella Downer, Fine Art from 5 July – 30 July 2016. The works are automated by music box mechanisms and handmade mechanical parts.
The female figures in 4 of these works are made from plastic, replica toys from the 1960s that I have cut-up and reassembled in order to pose in different positions. Subverting the notion of the traditional ‘unattainable’ music box ballerina twirling in front of a mirror, the females in these assemblages might straddle a horse or a steer. They ride the animals with 1960’s plastic cowboys. The body language and tension between the figures in the work juxtaposes ideas of childhood innocence, and wonder against an adult’s sense of danger and desire.
The 5th work above, The Goose Girl, is based on one of Grimms’ fairy tales, that tells of a ‘chosen bride’ who is forced to swap places with her criminal maid under threat of death. The intended husband’s suspicions are roused, so he follows and watches the ‘Goose Girl’ while she tends the geese, eventually discovering her secret. With a pastiche of narratives and styles, this work is a music box set in a reconstructed antique mantel clock-case (to which I have added the columns). The case becomes reminiscent of an old baroque theatre with a Hitchcockian style backdrop made from an old chocolate box lid. On winding the key, the Goose Girl ‘dances’ to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake whilst her suitor watches.
Damien Minton Gallery, Sydney
Tue 2 to Sat 20 October 2012
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.