Aniquah Stevenson: Trope
SEVENTH Gallery Workers Window
9 April – 4 May 2014
For her exhibition, Trope, Aniquah Stevenson has created an imagined landscape within the window by arranging a collection of found and handmade objects, all co-existing in quiet harmony.
The title of the exhibition, stemming from the Greek word ‘tropos’, to turn, refers to the themes of transformation and change, which resonate throughout Stevenson’s practice. Many of the materials she uses, including ceramics, glass and avocado seeds, are transformative, having the capacity to change from one state to another – glass evolving from sand, ceramics from clay, and seeds offering the potential for growth.
Having moved to Australia from South Africa five years ago, Stevenson draws on the experience of transitioning and adapting to a new place. She explains, “moving a vast distance from my childhood, both physically and literally, must have caused a longing for a vague, lost literal and emotional landscape.” There is an element of nostalgia in the work, a pleasure derived from returning to the innocence and comfort of childhood through the meditative process of collecting and creating, and the endless possibilities of assembling and reassembling.
Stevenson deliberately uses artistic techniques in which she has no formal training, intuitively creating objects with a child-like naivety. She communicates with her materials in a process of automatism – spontaneously and instinctively – the forms moulded from unconscious gesture without conscious thought for the finished product. This results in non-representational objects that convey an organic fluidity.
Stevenson imbues her objects with personal value, in doing so giving a purpose and meaning to otherwise non-functional and meaningless objects. She ensures that the objects communicate with each other in the space in a comforting dialogue of groupings and clusters reminiscent of family trees or constellations. As such, Stevenson’s work is intensely personal, and can be seen as a way for the artist to externalise her internal processing. Yet it is also intended to relate to the broader realm of human experience – growth and change being integral to the human condition.
This deceptively simple, unassuming work does not attempt to compete with the excess and noise which surrounds the window, that of the busy city street or the bustling pub. Aniquah Stevenson’s imagined world provides her with a sense of comfort, and for others the work, juxtaposed against the harsh landscape of our concrete metropolis, similarly offers the potential for a moment of quiet escape and contemplation.
– Laura Couttie, 2014