Hearts and Minds

Exhibition of Harriet Shwarzrock and Penny Byrnes

Exhibition of Harriet Shwarzrock and Penny Byrnes


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Main gallery<br />

Harriet Schwarzrock<br />

between stillness <strong>and</strong> movement 2018<br />

blown glass, neon <strong>and</strong> plasma<br />

Harriet Schwarzrock<br />


blown <strong>and</strong> mirrored glass, neon <strong>and</strong> plasma<br />

Link<br />

Harriet Schwarzrock in collaboration<br />

with Brian McNamara<br />

The fourth state of matter 2018<br />

blown glass, audio, LED lights, wood<br />

Photographs: Sam Cooper<br />


January 25 to March 25, 2018<br />


“In your light, I learn how to love.<br />

In your beauty, how to make poems.” Rumi<br />

43 steps to the door<br />

21 breaths across the atrium of air <strong>and</strong> glass<br />

In this short walk you have already<br />

found the Hidden/kryptós/krypton<br />

taken in the Stranger/ksénos/xenon<br />

you have breathed rarefied air<br />

You bring in the New/néos/neon<br />

Pause at the door<br />

Your heart must knock first<br />

60 times to enter<br />

60 beats per minute<br />

Set your watch by it<br />

Set your feet to slow steady<br />

to old growth tree<br />

to walking with a lover at dusk<br />

You are hollow but filled<br />

You st<strong>and</strong> still but still moved<br />

You have in you now<br />

all you’ll need<br />

to glow<br />

You are alone among the many<br />

You are alone but among friends<br />

You are alone<br />

but your heart will know what to do<br />

This will be an encounter<br />

“Do not feel lonely, the entire universe is<br />

inside you…<br />

You are the universe in ecstatic motion.”<br />

Rumi<br />

Your heart opens its eye<br />

It can see in the dark<br />

“It is only with the heart that one can see<br />

rightly”<br />

Antoine de Saint-Exupery<br />

Catch your breath <strong>and</strong> hold it<br />

cupped<br />

Lemon scented <strong>and</strong> leaning toward peach<br />

Jade tending to emerald<br />

Like breath exhaled on a window<br />

One finger draws a heart<br />

in the midst of its slick wet mist<br />

Slowly it melts<br />

This breath is of a sea breeze<br />

on pale blue water<br />

opalescent buoyant<br />

The electric current is that of a young boy<br />

shaking wet hair in the sun<br />

<strong>and</strong> droplets scatter like fireworks<br />

The breath here is tired<br />

It has turned turquoise<br />

<strong>and</strong> is heading to a green<br />

in search of shade<br />

to watch the afternoon fade<br />

The breath is gentle<br />

<strong>and</strong> has gone a long way today<br />

Its sighs are violets<br />

hanging<br />

viola tricolour: tickle-my-fancy, come-<strong>and</strong>cuddle-me,<br />

love-in-idleness, hearts-ease,<br />

heart’s delight<br />

***<br />

The heart is sitting in the dark<br />

sucking its thumb til<br />

the blood comes<br />

It is conch shell made flesh<br />

A great pink ear picking up signal flares<br />

The heart leans in to hear more<br />

It is trying to grasp what you say<br />

It is trying to grasp you<br />

by the finger<br />

like a child<br />

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the<br />

strange pull of what you really love.” Rumi<br />

There is a blue light here<br />

that wants out<br />

There is a song put here under pressure<br />

Humming along with closed lips<br />

sibilant secretive<br />

You already know the tune<br />

The Hidden one is watchful<br />

It is touching<br />

to see<br />

Such a rare <strong>and</strong> noble thing<br />

With the first touch the ice flow melts<br />

With the second the tulip bulb opens its<br />

tiger’s eye<br />

The third touch sends the molten lava in red<br />

rivulets<br />

The fourth colours cheeks <strong>and</strong> thoughts –<br />

stains them liquid amber<br />

The five touch heals<br />

And the sixth is the touching touched<br />

“between touching <strong>and</strong> touched…<br />

a kind of crossover occurs,<br />

when the spark of the sensing/sensible is lit,<br />

when the fire starts to burn…”<br />

(Maurice Merleau-Ponty Eye <strong>and</strong> Mind).<br />

The uranium glows like a galaxy of green<br />

moons<br />

It is love sick <strong>and</strong> pale in mourning<br />

Your heart sings out from its constellation<br />

The outer stars turn their heads<br />

“this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars<br />

apart<br />

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)”<br />

e e cummings<br />

Enter the chamber of the first ventricle<br />

The weather is charged<br />

It is sunset here<br />

Your touch will be soft<br />

like holding the first summer peach<br />

You will glow with the feeling<br />

Enter the second ventricle<br />

There is a storm in your heart<br />

It speaks with a tongue of lightning<br />

flickering over syllables<br />

A small shock shivers your veins<br />

<strong>and</strong> runs the violet river of you<br />

Enter the third chamber of the deep<br />

rocked by the impossible seas of the moon<br />

Mare Humorum the Sea of Moisture<br />

Mare Vaporum the Sea of Vapours<br />

Lacus Oblivionis the Lake of Forgetfulness<br />

Enter the last quadrant<br />

<strong>and</strong> hear the blood sing in your ears<br />

Recognise it as your own<br />

That beat travels with you always<br />

Your heart is with you<br />

when you float in the ocean<br />

when you hold your breath<br />

when you are least aware of it<br />

Even now<br />

A thought crosses your path<br />

In this way it is like the moon<br />

or the Anglerfish – with its bright lure<br />

Like swimming into phosphorescence in the<br />

sea<br />

The tiny glowing specs<br />

clinging to your limbs <strong>and</strong> hair<br />

making of you an exoskeleton of light<br />

Your face is flecked <strong>and</strong> flickering<br />

The air has become liquid<br />

Watch its edges rain<br />

<strong>and</strong> run<br />

You have given this glass body breath<br />

to fill its single lung<br />

You have given it a heart<br />

It has felt your touch<br />

Now you must teach it to love<br />


28<br />

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59 39<br />

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35<br />

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68 52<br />

38<br />

40<br />

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45<br />

43<br />

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48<br />

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37<br />

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7<br />

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31<br />

10<br />

70<br />

42<br />

71<br />

62<br />

41<br />

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69<br />

64<br />



Smokestack<br />

Penny Byrne<br />

Hurt Locker 2015<br />

blown glass, steel<br />

Photographs: Francesco Allegaretto<br />


January 25 to March 25, 2018<br />


HURT LOCKER, the 1.8m high glass <strong>and</strong> steel sculpture by artist Penny Byrne, has come home. In 2015<br />

the State Hermitage Museum <strong>and</strong> Berengo glass studios invited Byrne, along with many international<br />

artists, to create a work for the Glasstress exhibition exploring “Gothic style <strong>and</strong> ideas in the<br />

contemporary world” for the Venice Biennale. Responding to this curatorial theme Byrne was inspired<br />

to create Hurt Locker, a meditation on the concept of armour, protection, warfare <strong>and</strong>, ultimately,<br />

vulnerability.<br />

Just before the Biennale 1 Byrne explained Hurt Locker was her response to contemporary war in all its<br />

permutations – including the idea of SWAT officers <strong>and</strong> soldiers being modern equivalents of armourclad<br />

knights. And that being in armour – modern or medieval – means one is likely to get hurt. Hurt<br />

Locker expresses many facets of what it is to be in armour. As such, the sculpture represents an evolution<br />

in Byrne’s exploration of power.<br />

Byrne began exploring this idea in another work, Felled (2014), where the ancient Roman sculpture of<br />

the Dying Gaul is transformed into a modern-day SWAT-clad policeman. Made in bronze the life-sized<br />

figure, like the Dying Gaul, has received a mortal wound <strong>and</strong> half lies on the ground, stunned. Unlike the<br />

Roman sculpture however, the figure is fully covered in protective gear, including gas-mask <strong>and</strong> helmet.<br />

It is in Hurt Locker, however, that Byrne fully realises her long-st<strong>and</strong>ing ideas about power, the state,<br />

individual agency <strong>and</strong> the complex relationship between inner <strong>and</strong> outer armour. She does this through<br />

a new medium for her: glass.<br />

Now, Mr Hurt Locker, as I have come to call him, st<strong>and</strong>s alone in the enclosed circular smokestack<br />

gallery at Glassworks in Canberra, part of the <strong>Hearts</strong> <strong>and</strong> <strong>Minds</strong> exhibition. When viewed for the first<br />

time, he looks like a Samurai-Robocop. With his modular body, a lattice of steel grids filled with black<br />

glass, <strong>and</strong> held together by industrial pins <strong>and</strong> screws, he appears as a slightly ominous “i-Robot.”<br />

But, upon closer inspection, the black glass, alternating in thickness, allows the<br />

Canberran light to filter down the smokestack, through his body to illuminate him,<br />

curiously, in a deep shade of crimson. Mr Hurt Locker is now alive with blood pulsing<br />

through his frame, his heart glowing orange <strong>and</strong> red. He is no statue or deracinated<br />

robot but has personhood <strong>and</strong> agency. He is our SWAT-Protector against – whom?<br />

Gangsters, terrorists <strong>and</strong> other malefic individuals or groups “who may do us harm.”? Or<br />

does he symbolise something else?<br />

Glass, that supposedly coldest of materials, is here, transformed into a sensuous<br />

intersection of bulbous, undulating black <strong>and</strong> red. We feel Hurt Locker’s fragility,<br />

isolation <strong>and</strong> fear as a result. His right foot – a glass boot – is turned slightly inward a<br />

la Keanu Reeves. He appears almost child-like because of it. A straight, steel rod holds<br />

his helmet in place <strong>and</strong> connects it to his torso. In the half-light it seems as though the<br />

rod is an exposed spinal column, ready to be struck <strong>and</strong> smashed in battle – or worse.<br />

It appears as though, at any moment, Hurt Locker will leap up <strong>and</strong> transform into a<br />

marionette jerking around in a mad dance. Are modern soldiers not puppets of those<br />

who have charge of them? They are sent to fight this war or that; or to control <strong>and</strong><br />

corral crowds that threaten to become rioters; to maintain borders. But black glass<br />

glowing red serves to make Hurt Locker into a meditation on how tenuous <strong>and</strong> brittle<br />

any armour actually is.<br />

In preparation for creating Hurt Locker Byrne immersed herself in studying medieval<br />

armour in the Wallace Collection <strong>and</strong> the Victoria <strong>and</strong> Albert Museum. She also learnt,<br />

over the course of many months, how to make the steel skeleton which was to “hold”<br />

the Murano glass. Once welded together the steel frame was shipped from Melbourne<br />

to the famous Berengo Glass studio on the isl<strong>and</strong> of Murano. Once there, Berengo<br />

artisans, in a labour-intensive process, filled each steel limb with lustrous, black glass<br />

under Byrne’s careful instruction. Many glass sections of Hurt Locker, Byrne informs me,<br />

had to be smashed <strong>and</strong> then blown again to achieve the final work. A combination of<br />

gravity <strong>and</strong> molten glass being blown into the sculptural curvature of steel has resulted<br />

in a strange <strong>and</strong> beautiful organic being coming to life. Enclosed within a haunting<br />

<strong>and</strong> tranquil space, lit with a strange mixture of natural <strong>and</strong> artificial light, Hurt Locker<br />

reminds us, ultimately, of our individual attempts at armouring ourselves – both<br />

physically <strong>and</strong> psychologically – against our personal ghosts <strong>and</strong> demons.<br />

1 “Melbourne artist Penny Byrne creates suit of armour out of h<strong>and</strong> blown glass for prestigious Venice Biennale show,” Kylie<br />

Northover, Sydney Morning Herald, 14 April 2015.<br />

© Arjm<strong>and</strong> Aziz, Art Consultant, London, 2017, All Rights Reserved

1 1 Wentworth Ave, Kingston<br />

canberraglassworks.com<br />

T 02 6260 7005<br />

contactus@canberraglassworks.com<br />

open Wed to Sun, 10am to 4pm<br />

Photograph: Sam Cooper

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