Touring finalist 2019 Wallace Art Awards

2 recycled piano mechanics, flax paper, plaster bandage, acrylic paint, red food colouring, lead base.

Dimensions (H×W×D): 238 x 78 x 78 cm

Metamorphosis is part of a body of work exploring transformation. Chrysalid, finalist in the 2017 National Contemporary Arts Awards, was the first in this series coming from the transformation of mechanical parts of a piano, a moving skeletal structure, with the addition of flax paper, porcelain, plastic tubes and sculptured wood representing the natural yet sometimes aggressive process of metamorphosis. This piece again uses recycled piano parts, remodeled with plaster and flax paper while the inner workings of the piano have been repurposed and transformed. My motivation for working in this direction comes from a fascination with the transitory state of a changing object. It is in the process of metamorphosis and has not yet finished evolving, there is a vulnerability in the transition and yet the transformation is confrontational. Within society we see the transformation of our bodies to fit a desired image or ideal, we are obsessed with our evolution. As we strive to push past the limits of our biology and become more and more dependent on the technological world, we see the mutation of mechanical and organic, manmade and biological, a new hybrid of life.

Metamorphosis closeup.jpg

To create these works I have been collecting old unwanted, unusable pianos and adapting them, creating new forms of life from what were complex mechanisms designed for a very specific purpose and reformulating their mechanisms into a new expression. Firstly there is deconstruction as I dismantle the pianos parts meticulously, strip them of their felt, polish their metal and then number them to be put back into their original positions but with a very different purpose. Then there is reconstruction as the repurposed object is mounted in a formation that evokes the awakening of life within the discarded objects and brings a new momentum to their existence. The whole process is done with care and respect to the original craftsmen. For this work I was using the idea of a totem or pou, a structure that encapsulates the spirits from the journey of the piano from its conception, it’s journey from Europe to New Zealand through to the people who have played it and the music that has passed through its mechanism. Now its purpose has come to the end of its journey in the state it is in. It must evolve to survive, to be part of a culture moving forward.  There is a sense of the old evolving into the completely new, but the transition is hard and full of grief.