One of the many fun things that I did when back in Australia, was to hook up with my brother Rob, my Uncle John and my old travelling pal Stuart on one sultry hot day in Sydney’s Circular Quay area. Before getting some coffee by the harbour, we all attended an exhibition of artwork by TIM HAWKINSON, that was on show at the Museum of Contemporary Art. (The MCA can be seen on the left of the pic of Sydney Harbour).
The show was called Mapping The Marvellous, and although the subject is often mundane, such as a sculpture of an eyeball (made in part out of discarded green pens) the intricate way they’ve been executed is indeed marvellous. The artist seems obsessed with playful representations of the human body, but his musical mechanical sculptures were what took my fancy. There was something ingenious and wonderful about them.
The piece called DRIP fills a small room and looks like a vaguely sinister deep sea creature. Entering the room, you hear a dripping sound as water spurts out of the cling-wrap tentacles and strikes pie-tins held inside an array of buckets below the gently pulsing alien polyp overhead. Although the sound is initially reminiscent of rain drops, unlike them it is not random but rhythmical and musical, due to an elaborate hand built mechanism that opens and closes switches in the creature according to a musical score. This interplay of simplicity and complication, organic forms and mechanical gizmos, intricate work that somehow seems fresh is what I liked about his work.
Hawkinson is originally from the Bay Area (though now based in LA) but I had not heard about him until I travelled all the way from the Bay Area to Sydney. I will definitely keep track of his upcoming exhibitions, in hopes of seeing the UBERORGAN; musical sculpture on a colossal scale. It recently filled up THE GETTY with its whale-like honking bulk.