Tag Archives: Casselle Mountford

Convolution – A Woven Sculptural Installation – Works by Anaheke Metua and Casselle Mountford at Redland Art Gallery 6 July – 17 August


Casselle Mountford, Convolution 2014, detail, pith cane, variable dimensions 



Anaheke Metua, Enmeshed 2014Palm inflorescence, approx. 101x800x500cm


Redland Art Gallery – 6 July – 17 August


Throughout time, weaving has taken form in the humblest of materials as well as the most refined wools and silks, and has helped to create hearth and home, or to conjure up empire, power and desire. When presented in a contemporary gallery context, as in Convolution: A Woven Sculptural Installation, the act of weaving – like all art making and artwork – can be considered as having become politicized by the very nature of making art for an open public forum. In the work of Anaheke Metua and Casselle Mountford, the ‘political’ has to do with creating in terms of community and interconnection with regard to all the choices they have made throughout their creative process.


Both Metua and Mountford have long worked with the discipline of weaving as their preferred medium, and have presented this installation in association with Lines in the Sand 2014, the annual ephemeral environmental arts festival held on North Stradbroke Island. They were greatly assisted curatorially by Pat Zuber, who has worked closely with Lines in the Sand as one of its founding organizers.

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Convolution, installation images, photos courtesy Redland Gallery

As one of the most ancient of human technologies, weaving’s legacy of winding, twisting and interlacing lines of filament to create objects connects weaving to drawing. The foundations for Metua’s and Mountford’s weaving are the line and the hand. When looking at their work, one is reminded of the rhythm of artists’ hands, working and repeating the movements to build the piece from line, to plane, to volume, and the particular magic inherent in slowly transforming a simple, linear material into three-dimensional sculpture loaded with metaphor and meaning. Much like cross-hatching marks or contour lines in drawing, weaving – in the hands of these artists – is a medium at once honest, evident and direct while also mysterious in its ability to create the most amazingly inventive three-dimensional forms.

Both artists work with natural, plant-based materials like pith cane, palm inflorescence, spinifex, pandanus, wool, cotton and coconut fibre. Metua experiments with dismantled candy-coloured, plastic-coated copper wire in some pieces, but throughout the exhibition, a viewer is struck by the overwhelming sense of the organic in terms of both shape and colour. It’s not often that one enters a gallery and the words ‘soothing’, ‘calming’, ‘elegant’, and ‘beautiful’ come to mind with such speed and overall effect.


Casselle Mountford, Hufflepuff 2014Pith cane, 168×77 (diameter) cm



Casselle Mountford, Brown Cloud  2014, pith cane and wire, 45x40x40 cm


As Mountford has written, “My sculptures Hufflepuff, Hexapod, Infinity knot and Convolution could belong to the vegetal, plant or animal worlds… and convey a sense of mystery through their presence.” Hufflepuff 2014, airily suspended from the ceiling, through scale and shape evokes the body, yet its transparency and lightness coupled with the ephemerality of pith cane also invites thoughts of the transcendence of the body through formal abstraction. All of Mountford’s works in Convolution are minimal, essential and given to a discussion of symmetry and controlled flow. Another hanging sculpture, Brown Cloud Form 2014, is more solid in its presentation, but, like its title implies, is a further questioning of where solidity ends and the ethereal begins. This, in itself, is at the crux of Mountford’s aesthetic. Her constant balancing act between the solid and the flexible, the ephemeral and the statically stable — the evanescence and rebirth of endless cycles that work toward coalescence — mirrors all timeless natural processes here on Earth and throughout the cosmos.



Anaheke Metua, Curlicue 2014Palm inflorescence, nude and turmeric coloured raffia, variable dimensions.


Anaheke Metua, Curlicue 2014, detail


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Anaheke Metua, Swallow 2013, palm inflorescence, recycled wire frame, raffia and banana bark, 40x55cm



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Anaheke Metua, Serpentine 2014, detail


In her artist’s statement Metua writes, “The art of weaving facilitates a deep and sentient stillness within me…” With her sculptures in Convolution, Metua has transformed that interconnected, immersive sentience into an investigation of many sculptural forms and materials, finding release in the restless joy and immediacy of play and experiment. Her exuberant sculpture, Curlicue, hugs the flat plane of the wall, curling back and forth with the bound, compressed energy plants use to grow through obstacles like bitumen and concrete. Her use of the curlicue echoes age-old decorative tropes that over time have been carved into marble, set in plaster and woven into gold. Yet in Metua’s sculpture, her use of plant fibres connects her to Nature, to the land, and to the teachers she says, “have shared their insight, understanding and relationship to the natural world through the rhythm of patterns that form by their hands.”


To offer some historical and political contrast, think of a medieval woven work such as The Apocalypse Tapestry from 15th century France. Without a doubt, the Tapestry is a far cry from Convolutions – but that’s my point. Both are produced through weaving and its ancient associations with community are at the core of bringing people together in shared association, either for the fabrication of the work, as in the Tapestry, or in a weaving circle as Metua and Mountford allude to in their sculptures. Yet each use of weaving and its effects are at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of why the weaving is happening, and the same goes for the emotional and psychic impact of the finished work.



The Tapestry of the Apocalypse, Angers France




The Tapestry of the Apocalypse, detail


The Tapestry evokes power and fear (power’s constant companion) — as well as awe in the beauty of richly portrayed, overwhelming religious imagery deeply embedded in Western cultural stories that deem material wealth as reward, and suffering and death as punishment. Convolution speaks to other aspects of humanity and other cultures’ stories. Call these deep traditions Indigenous, natural, organic, ecology-minded, intuitive, life-affirming – the words in themselves signify only the beginning of what is so strongly communicated and embedded in Metua and Mountford’s work. And these words are surprisingly political these days.





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“Tapisserie de l’apocalypse” by Kimon Berlin, user:Gribeco – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tapisserie_de_l%27apocalypse.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Tapisserie_de_l%27apocalypse.jpg


Lines 2014 – Artwork Along the Gorge Walk

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Lisa Behan Pandanus People



Casselle Mountford Tree Weavings (detail)







Casselle Mountford Tree Weavings (details)

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Casselle Mountford


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Virginia Jones Untitled

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Virgina Jones Untitled (detail)


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Jennie Truman Dancers on the Hill 

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Jennie Truman Dancers on the Hill (detail)


The walk around the gorges at Point Lookout lasts about half an hour if you take it fast. But if you take your time and look – the path offers the sights of migrating whales, dolphins coursing up and over the surf, and huge mantas and turtles closer to shore.


View from South Gorge


For Lines 2014, five artists contributed ephemeral environmental works that will last long enough to delight viewers during the festival and for a while afterwards, eventually decaying and returning to the soil or sea.

For the artists, working this way presents a set of challenges unlike creating a commodity, or for that matter, for any indoor purpose — be it painting, sculpture, video — you name it. Using found materials from the landscape or bringing ephemeral materials to the site is very different than making an oil painting that will last for centuries, or an installation that is exhibited for a month or two (but that must stand up to the physical stresses that public exhibition implies).

That being said, the opportunity for an artist to create out of doors, with an audience at hand, and permission to work within the public landscape is not usually so generously given. Particularly with the carte blanche offered by Lines and the Straddie community.

Ephemeral environmental art is meant to decay, and meant to be touched and viewed within the landscape. It’s a bit “rough and tumble”. It’s meant to connect nature to culture and vice versa, without necessarily championing one over the other. And it’s challenging to the artist because, well, how can you possibly compete with nature’s beauty, intelligence and design values? Impossible!

For Tricia Dobson, an artist who lives on neighbouring Russell Island, working out of doors for her first experience making art within the landscape seemed daunting at first, “almost as if I had to rediscover my muscles in order to work.” Trish usually paints and weaves, and so it makes sense that her work Untitled Tree Drawings uses both a graphic line and compositional effects to delve into the landscape and up the hill into receding space, creating depth, but still subtly echoing the size and scale of the branches, ground cover and leaves of the hillside.




Tricia Dobson at work


Tricia Dobson Untitled (Tree Drawings) detail


Tricia Dobson, Untitled Tree Drawings (detail)


An artist like Casselle Mountford will work her magic weavings on site, up in the trees, and interact with the gesture and solidity of the trees as she weaves, calling on the viewer to consider formal concepts like transparency, shape, volume, colour, texture and scale, but also more affective topics such as where beings and borders begin and end, elements of organic form that call up presences like starfish, worms, bundled babies, and how the human-made interacts with the environment visually – and what is ‘natural’.

Casselle’s work will be exhibited starting Friday 4 July at the Redland City Art Gallery, as part of the show Convolutions, together with the work of Anaheke Metua, another artist working with Lines in the Sand 2014.

Virginia Jones’ clay works are most often shown outside, in the landscape, and are always meant to return to the soil. Her installation for Lines 2014, Untitled, is made from unfired clay and ilmenite, an ore found on Stradbroke Island that’s mined for a number of uses. Ilmenite is also a substance of spiritual value for the Quandamooka, and Virginia has received the sand from Craig Tapp, a Traditional Owner on the island.

Jones’ sculptures echo Zen Buddhist ideas of transience and simplicity. And there’s a sensual, tactile quality to what she makes that is definitely wabi sabi. She says that she’d like to remake this installation again and enlarge the scale to be big enough for a person to curl up inside the ‘bowls’.

Lisa Behan is a painter and sculptor, and has served as coordinator of the artists in residence for Lines 2014. She has installed groupings of Pandanus People all along the Gorge Walk for this year’s Lines, and her work this year – with its figurative, off-the cuff comic slant – relates more to her paintings than the installations she has previously created on the Gorge Walk. While the pandanus figures are very simple, they’re also elegantly and seamlessly installed, and kind of hilarious. There’s more than a hint of Dada and Surrealism here – similar to her paintings – and beautifully played here as a visual pun on ‘the figure in the landscape’.

Jennie Truman has responded to the flowing gestural rhythm and skirt-like roots of pandanus trees in her Dancers on the Hill to also create figures in the landscape, but on a much different scale, transforming  entire trees into flirty, fabulous, sexy dancers. It would be great to see how she would work the same transformation for male dancers ( ;    Jennie lives on the Island and owns the Drift Gallery at Point Lookout. Her keen eye for detail and the beautiful care with which she has created her figures is both intimate and sensitive to the way things look and are read by the eye – whether she uses banksia pods for ‘jewelry’ or gum leaves for ‘hair’.


Matt and Nick view the art in style.