Roses and Sardines

Blog post
Published: 30.07.2009

Today, marble turned vagabond. Transformed, while I read the art review in the daily paper over my morning cup of coffee. No longer something enduringly cool, elegant and both beguiling and deceitful in its apparent emulation of flesh, it became hot, sweaty, unreliable.

Sydney sculptor Alexander Seton is carving marble into T-shirts — those ubiquitously egalitarian, crisp-when-new but subsequently crumpled and sweaty, grotty and dilapidated garments associated with anything but the aura surrounding marble. Seton stands in the accompanying photo, arms folded, appropriately wearing an impish grin, in front of three of his marble T-shirts which are suspended on coat-hangers. Of course, as the article points out, marble has been used for the elegant representation of even more elegant folds in garments for centuries.
Why not T-shirts?

My coffee grew cold as I pondered the disruption this news had wrought to my secure assumptions about the material. True, I work with the stuff and am well acquainted with the associated grit and dust. And, yes, I have used it and seen it used in many ways, and I’m aware that there are many I have not seen. But T-shirts!

I was reminded of a time in a gallery a few years ago when a friend was helping me install a frieze of fifty-two brooches, which I had based on the theme of mutilation wrought on bodies by practices of mortification of the flesh, sacrifice and martyrdom, as well as injuries caused by war. I used Carrara marble to represent flesh, as it can with such voluptuous duplicity. One brooch, which I had named credo, was (loosely) based on a raddled male torso with a spear-wound in the side --- An image which has embodied doubt for some two thousand years. My assistant remarked that she liked the torn T-shirt.  We were pushed for time.  I held my tongue.

Now, her observation has returned and I am again both troubled and stimulated by it. With the advantage of hindsight, I must take a renewed look at the piece, indeed, at all fifty-two brooches.

It is easy (lazy!) to type-cast materials, to pigeon-hole them. What discomfort! But what delight to have such cherished sentiments disrupted. There lies potential!
(Lapis Lazuli jeans?)

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I think of roses.
I have loved them since I was a small child when my grandfather used to lift me up so that I could press my face into the beauties he grew. I grow them now, too, and remain enchanted by their beauty, intoxicated by their perfume which never fails to propel me backwards in time. I have been ripped many times by the thorns of roses. And kitten claws.

On my dining table are nine perfect creamy-white roses. There were ten; but Matilda finds the petals irresistible.

Now, I have a cat who eats them, roses, too, have been re-aligned — with sardines, chicken necks, salmon trimmings, cheese, (goat) yoghourt, prawns, minced beef, chop tails, egg yolk, and Veterinarian-approved high-quality Hills Science kitten nibblets.