It’s not often you can go to the Canberra Glassworks and actually touch the works on display, but a new exhibition, Hearts and Minds, gives you that very opportunity.
Artist Harriet Schwarzrock has created 60 hand-blown glass hearts filled with a mixture of gases which, when touched, shimmer and change the light effect inside.
“But we ask that you touch them very gently,” Schwarzrock laughs, obviously still a little nervy about the idea of a hands on exhibition.
“It’s been fascinating to have an element to the work which we don’t often have working with glass.”
The installation between stillness and movement explores the idea of interconnectivity and electrical impulses in the body and Schwarzrock said the interaction with the viewer embodies that thought.
“I wanted to create pieces that explored the idea of a relaxed heart rate,,” she said.
“They all contain a mixture of gases and the ones with neon in them glow this rich red colour and there’s a nice synergy with the heart there.”
Four more hearts also feature in a collaboration with sound artist Brian McNamara. When these are touched not only does the light inside change but a heartbeat sound pulsates at different rates, again making the viewer an active participant.
In the Smokestack gallery is a work that is definitely hands off. Indeed, Penny Byrne’s Hurt Locker, is quite an intimidating piece daring you to even stand too close.
The two-metre-tall figure is made out of a steel exoskeleton if you like, with hand-blown glass filling the frame to create a suit of armour Ironman would be envious of.
This is the first time “Mr Hurt Locker”, as the work has affectionately been dubbed, has been exhibited in Australia, after being created for the 2015 Venice Biennale.
As part of the Glasstress event the suit was made in response to the theme Gotika, or “gothic”, with Bryne imaging the piece as a knight of today’s contemporary gothic society.
“Riot police are the knights of today, they’re the ones wearing the armour,” she says.
Byrne is principally a ceramic artist, reconfiguring objects she finds in opshops and on ebay to make a political statement on contemporary society.
For Glasstress, artists who don’t usually work in glass were invited to Murano to work with the glass masters of the famed island.
“For me the biggest challenge was learning how to work with glass, learning its limitations but pushing those boundaries at the same time,” she said.
Hearts and Minds runs at the Canberra Glassworks until March 25.