I’ve always been more interested in what artists bring into their homes and studios rather than what comes out of them as ‘work’. The things they collect and live with, or the small threads and fragments accrued in notebooks that drive and influence their work but are rarely given focus.
Consisting of a single vitrine, two photo-books, a few objects and a single print—a blown up Christian ‘propaganda’ pamphlet found defaced in a humble church on Kiriwina island PNG—this ensemble presents a modest display of my own personal ‘fragments’. Book I contains monochrome photographs and anecdotes transcribed from travel journals and covers various contexts I’ve lived and worked; while Book II consists of colour photographs, documenting the objects I’ve gathered (as images), inspired by their material use and inventiveness.
Initially, I envisioned the viewer to have intimate access to the books: to sit down, relax and reflect on the photographs and anecdotes in relation to the objects. Sadly, given COVID-19, such intimacy was not possible. Hence the concealed presentation, which I now see as a metaphor for the distance we currently endure. In another sense the compilation and display of these items is as much about granting them status as ‘relics’, filled with personal memories and a will to give them exposure: a plastic cushion woven by grandmother; a child’s toy purchased from a street vendor at Mumbai Central Station; or a vintage postcard purchased from a general store on Hiva Oa, the island Gauguin spent his final years.
Newell Harry is a Sydney-based artist of South African-Mauritian descent. He holds a DCA University of Wollongong (2020) and an MFA from the UNSW, Sydney (2004). Notable exhibitions include: OCEANS, Dubrovnik Museum of Modern Art, Dubrovnik (2018); Tidalectics, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA 21) Augarten, Vienna (2017); The 56th Venice Biennale: All the Worlds Futures, Venice (2015); (Untitled): 12th Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul (2011); Rendezvous 11, South African National Gallery, Cape Town & Institut d’Art Contemporain, Villebanne, France (2011 & 2012), and The 17th Biennale of Sydney: The Beauty of Distance, Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age (2010).