Reviews/Fringe World Festival/Visual Art

String theory

13 February 2018

Fringe World review: Annette Nykiel’s “Meeting Place” ·
Spectrum Project Space ·
Review by Belinda Hermawan ·

A product of Annette Nykiel’s three-week residency at Spectrum Project Space at Edith Cowan University, Mt Lawley, “Meeting Place” is an exhibition that embraces the concept of textured storytelling. Utilising hand-plied string and hand-dyed cotton cloth, Nykiel entangles us in an exploration of what she has termed “the Country” – several non-urban places to which she feels an attachment to and visits often.

The purposeful use of yarning objects echoes the idea of Nykiel as a creator, the spinner of an immersive tale in which cloth, beads, rocks, fibre and string are handled and built upon, wound and coiled, encased and released. Many of the incorporated elements are made from naturally occurring materials that have been processed in some way to achieve their current form, for instance, cloth from cotton, or ceramic from clay.

Yet these installations are far from static. One cannot help but feel an energy from Panspermia 1, 2 and 3, as if there is potential being encased in these tightly bound balls of string. The feature piece The Country is a mixed media work spanning a wall and the floor beneath that could very well be seen as an explosion of volcanic energy, where rock has been catapulted on both the X and Y axis, plotting an array of woven and fired objects. This scattering is also reminiscent of how we find ancient artefacts in the ground; fragments all within a tight radius of each other, yet still wholly hidden under the earth.

Meeting place Annette Nykiel

The feature piece The Pit, consisting of neat rows of repurposed mineralogical sample bags and spanning an entire wall, is more ordered in its dynamism. Each bag has been hand-dyed individually, creating one-of-a-kind patterns with variations in colour, tone, saturation and negative space. Together, the grid assembly mimics an impressive periodic table, a man-made formation designed to help us make sense of all the discovered elements.

Meanwhile, the folded, dyed cloths in the nearby Strata sit in a pile – have they been folded down or are they to be hung up? Like the hand-plied sting of Coming-going, installed on the floor in a multi-layered line against Spectrum’s information desk, visiting Nykiel’s “Country” implies a freedom of movement; we are not trapped where we have come from or where we are now.

The idea that there are threads, both literal and metaphorical, that bind is not a new one. String making itself is a craft that has existed since time immemorial. The idea of cyclic life is also universal, as easily experienced again on viewing Yarning Circle, made from retted and bound fibre. However, rather than being purely derivative, Nykiel invites us to engage with these recycled materials and appreciate that reinvention can in itself be creation.

‘Meeting Place’ runs from 1 – 17 February 2018 at Spectrum Project Space as part of Fringe Festival.

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Author —
Belinda Hermawan

Belinda Hermawan is a graduate of UWA Law School (2009) and a fiction writer whose short fiction has been published in Australia and the United States. She is a summer school alum of Parsons, The New School of Design in New York. Favourite piece of playground equipment: playground car on springs!

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