Posted: 20 Aug 2004
According to writer Ian Burn, Jacky Redgate's work looks like it came from outer space. With the advantage of seeing twenty years of work unpacked across this three survey exhibitions series, it was possible to see why. The entire body of work has an obsessive, unpredictable character that goes far beyond the artist's oscillations between two and three D explorations, or even her practice of using retrieved, archival or found objects.
The manner in which Redgate investigated the very processes of perception, creates the impression of someone coming from a fog of unknowing to a moment of intense clarity without the stabilizing filters which familiarity provides. According to the artist the nature of her art school training (South Australian School of Art in the later 1970s) played a significant role in shaping her development and ideas. The unpredictable and barely-linked directions in her work to date stem from this initial readiness to make the medium of expression take second place to the entertainment of an idea.
This survey makes it possible to appreciate how the idea of mutability permeates her entire practice. The artist's catholic choice of source material (from found objects to highly crafted, synthesized objects), suggests that significance might occur anywhere and within anything. Her practice has also been informed by an interest in 19th century mathematician Henri Poincaré's take on geometric structures being provisional rather than fixed. Equal Solids, a series that has evolved from the artist's interest in topology, explored this territory in a dramatic manner. Laser-cut from craft board, each 'solid' object appears distinctively different, five bound by the same mathematical principle and the other a law unto itself - but all of equal volume.
This idea of one system subscribing to a set or rules which is contradicted by another was also evident in UNTITLED (work in five parts) in which black vases set on black photographic studio stands were visible from a side-on view but fully frontal were almost invisible or certainly impossible to photograph. By placing her orange and white picnic sets in a hall of mirrors (STRAIGHTCUT series) Redgate all but declared her full agenda by modelling the idea of endless permeability as a chilling prediction for the fate or future of her practice.
Somewhere between actual and virtual reality Redgate is continuing to ply her trade in images, displacing, fragmenting and breaking down the systems that give the observed and experienced world some meaning but offering some wavering hope that a personal reconstruction is a distinct possibility.
Jacky Redgate is represented by Sherman Galleries, Sydney and ARC One Gallery, Melbourne.
Image: Jacky Redgate, Straightcut#6 (from Exhibition 3). Photo courtesy of the artist.