G.W. Bot: Glass Glyphs and Giles Ryder: Fractured Galaxy. Canberra Glassworks. Until June 23.
Canberra Glassworks offers residencies to artists who work in other media but wish to extend their art practices through glass. Artists can experiment and learn about the fundamentals of glass as a material and incorporate this knowledge into their work.
G.W. Bot had a five-week residency at the Glassworks in 2018. The Glass Glyphs exhibition demonstrates clearly how successful the artist has been. She has incorporated glass into her wall sculptures, thereby bringing another dimension to her use of metal and ceramics and has opened up possibilities for future directions. In connection with the exhibition, Bot gave a moving talk about her life as an artist and how her residency had been a positive and stimulating experience.
Bot's flat glyphs, formed from soft dark steel, salvaged rusted metal and recycled glass, are taken from the environment and are morphic, anthropomorphic and zoomorphic. They represent a personal language of deep significance to the artist - a version of a tribal language, perhaps, that charts a narrative of our relationship with our environment and taps into our deepest fears.
Perhaps these truths are too hard to bear and by recasting them in this symbolic way the artist makes it easier for us to deal with them. The images of glyphs are familiar. We relate to them intuitively but they are also unreadable. Like notes from a musical score, the shape of each note is recognisable but we don't always know the music they play.
Glyphs Song, a work that flows around the walls of the main gallery, is like a lament based on the cycle of life. The Christian image of the Crucifixion is represented by painful images of twisted tree-like glyphs but as the narrative moves inexorably on to its close, hope in the form of a glass glyph seems to denote new beginnings.
The work Tree of Life is in the Link Gallery. The central glyph denotes the Biblical tree of life. Made from glass, it rises tall between the dancing shapes of other glyphs. The glass image becomes the light that permeates the darkness - the Garden of Eden symbolises the environment where we live. We can wantonly decide to live in the darkness or strive towards the light of knowledge.
In the Engine Room of the glassworks another work, Engraved Poem - Mountains, Clouds and Glyphs, is a lyrical tribute to the environment. As a work in relief, it is a beautiful play of materials, namely the translucency of glass combined with the pliable nature of ceramic. The "clouds" in green glass are engraved with mystical markings in what seem like poetic evocations that are encircled by dancing ceramic glyphs seemingly performing in a timeless celestial space.
Giles Ryder's site-specific work Fractured Galaxy is in the Smokestack Gallery. Ryder's current work is one of the successful installations to have been exhibited there. His colourful neon tubes float above us in a complex abstract aerial ballet bringing with them an initial sense of wonder and delight in their bright and zesty colours.
This initial delight is tempered by the artist's wish that we look deeper beyond the initial appearance and contemplate the darker side of modern life with the complexity of its digital technology.
Within the core of these neon lights are the elements that make up the galaxy with the artist linking the work to a wider and more spatial context than our own troubled and fractured world.