The daily news is inundated with tragic stories of death. For many people the opportunity to organise appropriate rituals to pay their respects and celebrate loved ones is lost. Such news and other unfortunate global events reignited memories of how Jacky Cheng once watched her grandmother prepare and renew her hand made funeral costume months before she passed away. Cheng had little knowledge then of why her grandmother’s beautiful clothes were wrapped up and stored in a suitcase for decades. She now knows.
There is a sense of urgency in putting practices in place and caring for lost skills and upholding traditions. While making this work, and Love and Honour, important rites and repetitive rituals were carried out. They invite taboo conversations about preparation and commemorating the after-life; an intangible imaginary future. These works are a rumination on the relationship between paper and spirit – a personal journey of the quintessence of materiality, carried out with traditional methodology.
IMAGE > Jacky Cheng, ...that awaits at the end of life, 2023, kozo papers, joss papers, paper pine, kibiso, hair and bonded nylon thread, dimensions variable. Image courtesy of the artist. Photograph: Bo Wong.
IMAGE > Pattie Beerens, nature 2.0 (clay weaving with roots from endangered Moonah trees), clay, cotton fibres and roots from endangered moonah trees, nature 2.0 (clay weaving with branches from dormant weeds), clay, cotton fibres and branches from dormant weeds, nature 2.0 (clay weaving with Dodder Laurel vine), clay, cotton fibres and indigenous dodder laurel vine, 2023. Image courtesy of the artist. Photograph: Rory Daniel.
nature 2.0 is a design concept articulated in three-dimensional ephemeral clay weavings. Handmade with sloppy threads of earth and organic detritus, the weavings form from material relations and engagement. Artist Pattie Beerens uses scores (commonly used in dance) to guide her intuitive weaving process and listens and responds to the materials she collects: the roots from endangered Moonah trees broken off by the tides; Dodder Laurel stems suffocating gum trees, and dormant branches from unwelcome summer weeds.
Viewed as cognitive architectures, nature 2.0 tells of collaborating lines adapting, mattering and weaving into networks of interconnectedness inscribed in space. It poses questions: Is ‘working with’ rather than ‘doing to’ the materials of the world a meaningful response to western perceptions of materials as ‘resource’? What would the built environment look like if humans listened to materials, reflected on their provenance, and regarded materials ‘kin’? Is 'rewilding' an aspirational design concept?
Featuring a silicone-coated seat pad to imitate skin and a metal body for stability, Cheeky is an attempt to reconcile humour with design to create a more playful and engaging user-experience while still retaining comfort. It is not often that furniture is specifically designed to be humorous, to liberate the silly child inside of us, intertwine light-heartedness into utility and to execute a 'not so serious’ concept seriously. Cheeky sheds light on furniture design as a medium in which designers can explore ways of bringing humour to spaces and experiences without a compromise to functionality. Laughter is the best medicine after all, and we can perhaps bring more of it into our lives through the possibilities of furniture design.
By shifting the audience’s view of waste, Maryam Moghadam aims to exemplify a future of sustainable furniture design practices that make use of the abundance of waste destined to landfill.
IMAGE > Maryam Moghadam, Cheeky, metal, silicone, high-density foam, 47 x 50 x 32 cm. Image courtesy of the artist.
IMAGE > Ilan El, Cannons of Hope (An installation of 12), Glass, Galvanised steel, 30 x 20 x 20 cm / 130 x 50 x 50 cm (with plinth). Image courtesy of the artist.
With a long history of military combat, Israeli soldiers, when presented with violence, sing a famous song, “Flowers in the Barrel”. The heartfelt lyrics express a hopeful longing for a time of peace, where cannons are loaded with flowers instead of missiles.
Cannons of Hope creates a powerful metaphor for the resilience of the human spirit in the face of destruction. Using Ilam El’s Cannon Vase range as its basis, this iteration of distorted vases, melted by overheating and deformed by stress, fire beams of light, casting a luminous cloud of hope and determination. The use of glass – a medium which has its own will and yet is inherently fragile and vulnerable – highlights the delicate balance between control and unpredictability, characterising the creative process. The use of light expresses hope in darkness, where one's experience relies on the juxtaposition of the other.
Cannons of Hope is a poignant expression of El's military service experiences as a soldier during the Gulf War. This installation is a powerful and moving tribute to the human spirit, highlighting the fragility and resilience that portrays our experience of the world, speaking to the enduring power of hope and the transformative potential of art and design.
Creating Character is a soft sculpture artwork made from dead-stock and vintage fabrics. It has been patchworked and stitched together using a traditional log-cabin quilting block to create a 3D companion.
The artwork celebrates the spirit of imagination and creating character. Patchworking various fabrics also reflects the diversity within our world, reminding us that collective strength arises from embracing our differences. It encourages viewers to reconsider their relationship with available resources and creates a space where reality blurs with make-believe, and everyday materials are transformed into magical companions leading to extraordinary worlds.
IMAGE > Phong Lai, Creating Character, 2023, dead-stock and vintage textiles, cotton and silk thread, and 100% recycled PET Polyfill, 71 x 100 x 60 cm. Image courtesy of the artist.
Piccolo is a piece of lighting that questions viewers through its shape and size. It encourages us to think of existing designs of lighting utilising the combination of old and new design cues. Using natural brass ensures that the material can easily be recaptured at the product’s end of life and repurposed. As a result, Piccolo is an accessible wall sconce that adds a sparkle and warmth to many designed spaces, enhancing public sentiment and cosiness.
IMAGE > Vi Le, Piccolo Wall Sconces, 2023, brass, 12 x 12 x 6.5 cm. Image courtesy of the artist.
Drawing inspiration from the overwhelming footprint of consumerism and the transitory nature of planned obsolescence, this collection delves into the deep-seated implications of material legacy and the nuances of archaeological storytelling.
Each object takes shape through a fusion of components salvaged from discarded vacuum cleaners – symbols of contemporary disposable culture, and a ubiquitous presence in road-side waste collections. Dismantled and reduced to their core elements, the discarded machines have been reconfigured and captured in the form of ceramic vessels utilising the traditional technique of slip casting.
Envisioned as archaeological discoveries for future societies to decipher and interpret, this work invites the viewer to imagine potential futures in which these artefacts might be unearthed, while simultaneously prompting introspection about the legacy we could be shaping.
IMAGE > Richard Greenacre, Of Rubbish and Relics - Vessel 1 [blue], 2023 Australian porcelain, ceramic stain and glaze, 34.5 x 31 x 10 cm. Image courtesy of the artist.