Safe Space contemporary sculpture brought together three-dimensional artworks by twelve Australian artists to explore psychological aspects of physical space.
It featured a range of figurative elements and narrative themes with social, and sometimes political, resonances. Many of the works in the exhibition took as their point of departure: the human body, its dimensions, the spaces it occupies, the narratives that contain it and the theatre or spectacle that unfolds around it.
Works reflected a wide range of approaches that represented the breadth of contemporary sculpture in Australia, spanning: colourful, pop, smooth, clean, commercial finishes to more subdued, monochrome, textured and rough aesthetic styles. The artists also used materials as diverse as concrete, stone, plastic, wood, wax, air, neon, bronze, steel, feathers, lead and leather.
The tone of the exhibition ranged from humour and playfulness, nurturing and warmth, through to unease, psychodrama and melancholy. The social themes touched on included privacy versus public space, refuge and sanctuary, agoraphobia and claustrophobia. These blurred into psychological themes of risk, exposure, harm, frailty, isolation, suffocation and protection. Political themes included sexual and labour exploitation of Aboriginal women in Australia’s colonial history and the fate of refugees who come to Australia in boats: being turned back, detained or drowned at sea.
Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro, David Cross, Karla Dickens, Franz Ehmann, Will French, Rosie Miller, Michelle Nikou, Alex Seton, Keg de Souza and Tim Sterling.
Installation view of Safe Space contemporary sculpture at UniSC Art Gallery. Photo: Carl Warner.
Artist and curator talk: Christine Toussainte Morrow and Franz Ehmann
11am, 11 December 2021
Closing event: David Cross, Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro in conversation with Christine Toussainte Morrow
3pm, 15 January 2022
To support the exhibition, Museums & Galleries Queensland developed a range of resources including videos with artists Abdul-Rahman Abdullah and Alex Seton discussing their work in the exhibition, panel discussions and an education resource. Visit the Safe Space website.