A wall of glass hearts may be stretching the concept of portraiture, but they're perfect for a show that's all about love.
And the National Portrait Gallery's director of collections and exhibitions Sandra Bruce wants to stretch audience expectations as much as possible when it comes to the gallery's next big show.
Designed and created by local artist Harriet Schwarzrock, Space between movement and stillness aims to explore the different forms of love, and the connections and interactions we have with those we love.
Schwarzrock handcrafted each of the hearts, and filled them with inert gas which bursts into colour, movement and light when stimulated by electricity.
The glass hearts are a "sculptural plasma ball", she said, and are surrounded by an electromagnetic field which responds when in close proximity to another heart or to a person.
"They [the hearts] relate even to just proximity, just being close enough to them we then ground the work," Schwarzrock said.
"You can quieten the fast-moving forms or enliven a more subtle form, which is something we do for one another."
The installation comes ahead of the gallery's Australian Love Stories exhibition, which is set to open next month.
"Australian Love Stories is a bit of an obvious title, but we wanted to stretch audience expectations around the exhibition," Ms Bruce said.
"It's not just about romantic love, it's not just intimate love, it is about all of the permutations of love.
"Working with an artist like Harriet on a body of work which is really speaking to the physiology of love, it was such an exciting thing to do."
Schwarzrock added that whilst COVID hasn't changed her creative process, it had changed the way she perceived and understood her work.
"COVID has probably influenced the way I think about the work, and in this environment where one can't touch the work the way it has been designed to, it just reiterates the idea of those subtle interactions, and the way we react to each other," she said.
- The installation is now open in the National Portrait Gallery, and the Australian Love Stories Exhibition opens March 20.
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