Like a backyard archaeologist, Christine Hellyar presents a variety of intriguing artefacts and objects in Tool Trays. While the presentation owes a debt to museum classification and display systems, the work also subtly undermines such practices.
By placing the work directly on the floor, Hellyar challenges the customary eye-level presentation in museums. She introduces an informality more reminiscent of an archaeological dig, creating a tension with the very precise arrangement of the objects. Each of the 14 trays have evocative names such as ‘Bird Stones for Brides’, ‘Birds of a Feather Flock’, ‘Women’s Grubbers’, ‘Moth Rocks on Sticks’, ‘Moth Rocks Not on Sticks’. The titles are both meaningful and meaningless – they are outside the realm of known terms, but it is easy to imagine the purpose and usages of the tools they describe. Hellyar does not impose a narrative, but rather invites viewers to invent their own understanding of an unknown people, place and time.