Household dust and blue roses make for domestic bliss at Deakin University Art Gallery, with everything including the kitchen chair on exhibition

4 June 2014

An ornamental carpet made from household dust, a handmade quilt featuring 4,000 blue roses and a kitchen chair that has been transformed into a sculpture are some of the art works that can be seen at Deakin University's Art Gallery this month.

domestic bliss opened at the Deakin University Art Gallery in Burwood this week, featuring the work of 17 contemporary artists whose work responds to the concept of what it means to be at 'home'.

The exhibition curator, Emma Cox, from the Deakin University Art Collection and Galleries Unit said the exhibition represented domestic spaces as more than just a physical space.

"Although the exhibition title makes a tongue-in-cheek reference to a picture-perfect ideal, home is a place that holds very personal meanings for people," Ms Cox said.

"The artists in this show have used the idea of the domestic space to discuss ideas relating to societal values, traditions, politics, and not to mention, family dynamics."

Ms Cox said the idea of the exhibition came from one of the artworks in the Deakin University Art Collection.

"Deakin University has a fabulous art collection of over 1700 works of mainly contemporary Australian art," she said.

"The idea of the exhibition came to me when I first started at Deakin as the curator of the collection six months ago, and I discovered Katherine Hattam's work Specific Object – White (2009) in the storeroom.

"It is a fantastic sculpture that the artist made through transforming one of the wooden kitchen chairs that sat around her family dining table for many years.

"It has an elegant, minimalist quality but also speaks of the innovation and the tenaciousness of an artist who, as a working mother, has used materials ready at hand to create an artwork."

The works in the exhibition have been largely drawn from the Deakin University Art Collection, and are supplemented by loans and commissions from other artists.
Artist Hannah Bertram has been commissioned to create a temporary artwork especially for the exhibition – out of household dust.

"Hannah Bertram is a Melbourne-based artist who is interested in the idea that there is preciousness to be found in the everyday," Ms Cox said.

"As part of an ongoing series of installations she calls An Ordinary Kind of Ornament, Hannah collects dust from various sources - streets, sheds, vacuum cleaners, studios – and using stencils, creates beautiful, fragile, ornamental 'carpets'."

The exhibition also includes ceramic works, paintings and a wall installation made out of muffin baking trays.

The full list of artists in the exhibition are: Katherine Hattam, Elizabeth Gower, Hannah Bertram, Lucas Grogan, David Ray, Julia deVille, Prue Venables, Honor Freeman, Gwyn Hanssen Pigott, Michael Doolan, Yvonne Kendall, Darren McGinn, Lionel Bawden, Claudia Damichi, Donna Marcus and Nadine Christensen.

A catalogue accompanies the exhibition with an essay by Ms Cox and an introduction by Georgina Downey, Visiting Research Fellow in Art History at the University of Adelaide and editor of Domestic Interiors: Representing Homes from the Victorians to the Moderns, Berg Publishers, Oxford, 2013.

domestic bliss will be open from 5 June to 19 July at the Deakin University Art Gallery, Melbourne Burwood Campus, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood 3125. Entry is free.

Click here for more information about the exhibition and the Deakin University Art Gallery:


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Mandi O’Garretty
Media and Corporate Communications
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Rebecca Tucker
Media and Corporate Communications
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