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Ham Darroch

Canberra Museum and Gallery Civic Square, Canberra City | 6207 3968

Canberra Museum and Gallery is part of the Cultural Facilities Corporation which is an ACT Government Agency.

5 April - 8 June 2014

Hamilton Darroch Suntrap 2014

Hamilton Darroch’s art frequently incorporates imagery and objects from the mundane in everyday life – household tools, implements and appliances. Taking his cue it seems from the precepts of pop art, with its focus on popular culture and mass production in reaction against the western fine art tradition, Darroch has remade and re-presented things from the quotidian world of work and domesticity. However, unlike much pop art that celebrates the tawdry glamour of advertising, his sculptural objects are more homely, at least in their origins. Darroch’s most recent sculptures have been created using objects long exposed to the elements in the Australian landscape. Darroch uses colour harmonies and geometric patterns to emphasise the vibrational qualities of found objects. His vernacular works explore perception, memory, representation and abstraction. The centrepiece for the exhibition Suntrap 2014, is a 2.5-metre, brilliantly coloured work made from 40 vintage rabbit traps, set open and glowing.

Echo 2012 -14

Echo 2012-14 is a sculpture constructed from the remains of a damaged basketball backboard. Salvaged from Yarralumla, whose name apparently means ‘echo’, it stood for 50 years in the harsh elements; weathered, vandalised and twisted, the object was no longer functional but reminded the artist of a Constructivist sculpture. Darroch has been responding for some time in his practice to the art of Sidney Nolan, and this exhibition includes a work Mrs Carroll’s tent 2014 which is informed by a painting in the Canberra Museum and Gallery Nolan Collection, Woman and tent 1946.

This intriguing conjunction of assemblage and reductive abstract art is also the essence of a previous work, Diversion, a wall sculpture composed of half-a-dozen ancient worn and corroded rabbit traps in a straight linear arrangement, their bait plates painted in simple combinations of blue and red forming a progressive geometric pattern across the work, like a sequence of signal flags.

diversion 2013

The red and blue together create a colour vibration that animates the rusted metal contraptions, giving Diversion an almost kinetic quality; this suggestion of movement amplifies the tension already generated by the sinister nature of the traps, which yawn open as if poised to be sprung.

The work is mysterious, resisting a straightforward reading, yet the juxtaposition of its slightly incongruous elements seems to promise some kind of narrative, driven by the signals and patterns within its surface. While Diversion’s strong primary colours in their geometric compositions suggest hard-edge painting, there is also a relationship with the intense colours and simple forms of Sidney Nolan’s figurative painting. The vivid blue and red of Diversion is present in the poignant Nolan work Hare in trap 1946, where the animal is caught in a trap such as those in the Darroch work, and the brilliant blue of its startled eye is countered by a spray of red blood spots like eyeballs on the ground around its stretched form. Another recent work by Darroch, Moon Boy (after Nolan), recreated on a shovel that artist’s famous 1939 yellow silhouette painting, Moonboy (also known as Boy and the moon), a work that hovers between abstraction and representation. This is a condition of Darroch’s art, in the almost-figurative shovels and traps with their enigmatic past and spirited grunge poetry, now crisply dressed in the raiments of modernist abstraction; the tension is present and buoyant and dynamic, animating the works without explaining them away. Deborah Clark Senior Curator of Visual Art at the Canberra Museum and Gallery, Canberra, Australia, March 2014

Suntrap 2014 detail

Biography Ham Darroch (*1972) is an Australian artist working in sculpture, painting and performance. Darroch’s sculptures reference traditional methods of making yet show a playful, subtle and at the same time critically–founded treatment of everyday objects. Darroch’s paintings are inspired by the action of everyday objects, Australian flora and discarded materials. His imagery is universal evoking shared histories and experiences, place, and perception while revealing a deep sensitivity to the optical effects of geometric colour. In early 2006, he completed an MFA (research) COFA University of New South Wales and in 1997 a Bachelor of Arts from the Australian National University. In 2002, he received a New Work Grant from Australia Council for the Arts and in 2000, a Development Grant from Arts ACT. From 2006-2009 he lived in London and has worked as an assistant to Bridget Riley since 2004. Ham Darroch is represented by Michael Reid Gallery

Echo 2012 -14

Photography & Design Rob Little RLDI

Ham Darroch - Suntrap  

Hamilton Darroch’s art frequently incorporates imagery and objects from the mundane in everyday life – household tools, implements and appli...

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