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Green Lamp Green Lamp

Kate Daw2013 - 2014

Biennale of Sydney

Biennale of Sydney

For the 19th Biennale of Sydney, Melbourne-based artist Kate Daw created a new site-specific installation, Green Lamp (2013–14), on Cockatoo Island. As the title suggests, Daw has installed a green lamp in the small, open-air building attached to the old military guardhouse on the Upper Island. The light was turned on at dusk as the exhibition closed for the day and continued to shine throughout the night.

Daw is drawn to the magic of the liminal. The work comes to life when visitors are heading home; it may be glimpsed with a backward glance during the return ferry journey, from passing vessels travelling on Sydney Harbour or from vantage points along the harbour foreshore. It adds to the field of lights that is the night-time cityscape, headlights moving across the Harbour Bridge and houselights flickering along the water’s edge. The work relates, too, to the strong shipping history of the area, and to the nautical tradition of placing a green light on the starboard side of a vessel so that boats may pass each other safely in the dark.

While the piece will be visible to some, others may not see the light at all, yet it continues to exist – on Cockatoo Island, and in our mind’s eye. What is central to Daw’s offering is the knowledge of the light’s existence and the imaginative potential it inspires, inducing a yearning and curiosity beyond a purely visual experience. One association we may draw on is the image of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous protagonist, Jay Gatsby, staring out at the green light at the end of the opposite dock. The light Gatsby sees night after night belongs to the object of his love, Daisy Buchanan, who, like the light’s incandescence, remains close but always just out of reach; the beckoning light is a constant reminder of the love and life with her that he so deeply desires.

The trope of the island, a forgotten land bordered by impenetrable seas, has often been employed in art and literature as a literal and metaphorical symbol of isolation and disconnection. Daw’s light establishes a union between past and present longings, real and imagined – it is, to quote Fitzgerald, an ‘enchanted object’.

A multidisciplinary artist, Daw draws on influences from literature, language, history and culture to create artworks that explore themes of memory and nostalgia and the relationship between feminist history, modernism, and domestic decoration and design. Daw’s work is informed by her regular engagement with communities, artists, writers and designers, and her teaching and research at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne.

In her solo show, ‘In Between Days’, at Sarah Scout, Melbourne, in 2011, Daw exhibited 17 paintings of flowers – symbols of beauty, transience and also of the feminine. Drawing inspiration from 1960s and 1970s crockery and textile designs, the artist painted details of their intricate forms on to found children’s blackboards. Along with Daw’s dreamy renderings, the works also evidenced the history of each blackboard, with its unique scratches and faded scrawls.

Named for the meteorological term for the time of day when the sun sinks below the horizon and day becomes night, Civil Twilight End (2011) is a permanent public artwork commissioned for Melbourne’s Docklands precinct that Daw created in collaboration with artist Stewart Russell. The work takes the form of a 7-metre-tall bell tower constructed from bricks salvaged from one of the precinct’s only surviving historic goods sheds. A large brass bell, linked to a computer program that calculates the precise moment each day when the sun drops six degrees below the horizon, tolls to herald the onset of night. The work references the history of the Docklands as a maritime and industrial area, but also draws attention to the natural rhythms of the community by signifying the end of the working day and the transition to a time of rest and reflection.

Daw has exhibited her work nationally and internationally since 1992. Recent exhibitions have been held at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art and the Ian Potter Museum of Art, both in Melbourne; and a major solo exhibition was held at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth. Daw is the recipient of an Anne & Gordon Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarship and the inaugural Basil Sellers Creative Arts Fellowship. In 2006, Daw completed her PhD at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne, where she is currently Head of Painting.

For the 19th Biennale of Sydney, Melbourne-based artist Kate Daw created a new site-specific installation, Green Lamp (2013–14), on Cockatoo Island. As the title suggests, Daw has installed a green lamp in the small, open-air building attached to the old military guardhouse on the Upper Island. The light was turned on at dusk as the exhibition closed for the day and continued to shine throughout the night.

Daw is drawn to the magic of the liminal. The work comes to life when visitors are heading home; it may be glimpsed with a backward glance during the return ferry journey, from passing vessels travelling on Sydney Harbour or from vantage points along the harbour foreshore. It adds to the field of lights that is the night-time cityscape, headlights moving across the Harbour Bridge and houselights flickering along the water’s edge. The work relates, too, to the strong shipping history of the area, and to the nautical tradition of placing a green light on the starboard side of a vessel so that boats may pass each other safely in the dark.

While the piece will be visible to some, others may not see the light at all, yet it continues to exist – on Cockatoo Island, and in our mind’s eye. What is central to Daw’s offering is the knowledge of the light’s existence and the imaginative potential it inspires, inducing a yearning and curiosity beyond a purely visual experience. One association we may draw on is the image of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous protagonist, Jay Gatsby, staring out at the green light at the end of the opposite dock. The light Gatsby sees night after night belongs to the object of his love, Daisy Buchanan, who, like the light’s incandescence, remains close but always just out of reach; the beckoning light is a constant reminder of the love and life with her that he so deeply desires.

The trope of the island, a forgotten land bordered by impenetrable seas, has often been employed in art and literature as a literal and metaphorical symbol of isolation and disconnection. Daw’s light establishes a union between past and present longings, real and imagined – it is, to quote Fitzgerald, an ‘enchanted object’.

A multidisciplinary artist, Daw draws on influences from literature, language, history and culture to create artworks that explore themes of memory and nostalgia and the relationship between feminist history, modernism, and domestic decoration and design. Daw’s work is informed by her regular engagement with communities, artists, writers and designers, and her teaching and research at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne.

In her solo show, ‘In Between Days’, at Sarah Scout, Melbourne, in 2011, Daw exhibited 17 paintings of flowers – symbols of beauty, transience and also of the feminine. Drawing inspiration from 1960s and 1970s crockery and textile designs, the artist painted details of their intricate forms on to found children’s blackboards. Along with Daw’s dreamy renderings, the works also evidenced the history of each blackboard, with its unique scratches and faded scrawls.

Named for the meteorological term for the time of day when the sun sinks below the horizon and day becomes night, Civil Twilight End (2011) is a permanent public artwork commissioned for Melbourne’s Docklands precinct that Daw created in collaboration with artist Stewart Russell. The work takes the form of a 7-metre-tall bell tower constructed from bricks salvaged from one of the precinct’s only surviving historic goods sheds. A large brass bell, linked to a computer program that calculates the precise moment each day when the sun drops six degrees below the horizon, tolls to herald the onset of night. The work references the history of the Docklands as a maritime and industrial area, but also draws attention to the natural rhythms of the community by signifying the end of the working day and the transition to a time of rest and reflection.

Daw has exhibited her work nationally and internationally since 1992. Recent exhibitions have been held at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art and the Ian Potter Museum of Art, both in Melbourne; and a major solo exhibition was held at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth. Daw is the recipient of an Anne & Gordon Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarship and the inaugural Basil Sellers Creative Arts Fellowship. In 2006, Daw completed her PhD at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne, where she is currently Head of Painting.

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Details

  • Title: Green Lamp Green Lamp
  • Creator: Kate Daw, Kate Daw
  • Date: 2013 - 2014, 2013 - 2014
  • Location Created: Sydney, Australia, Sydney, Australia
  • Provenance: Courtesy the artist and Sarah Scout, Melbourne., Courtesy the artist and Sarah Scout, Melbourne.
  • Type: Light/Installation, Sculpture, Light/Installation, Sculpture
  • Rights: http://www.biennaleofsydney.com.au/legal-privacy/, http://www.biennaleofsydney.com.au/legal-privacy/
  • External Link: Biennale of Sydney, Biennale of Sydney
  • Medium: mixed-media installation, mixed-media installation
  • Edition: 2014: 19th Biennale of Sydney: You Imagine What You Desire, 2014: 19th Biennale of Sydney: You Imagine What You Desire

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