Simryn Gill: Soft Tissue

16 Jan – 02 Mar 2019

Soft Tissue is Simryn Gill’s third exhibition at the gallery. It will show three works, Naga Doodles, Punch Drunk and Weeds of my parents’ garden, made in three very different materials and methods. Each work is a record of negative spaces and non-things from the vicinity of Gill’s homes in Port Dickson, Malaysia and Sydney, Australia.

Naga Doodles are a group of more that 70 relief prints, made over a two-month period in 2017, directly from the bodies of snakes that Gill found run over, and brought back to her studio. She inked the carcasses with etching inks, using rollers, and then took the impression of the animals onto a variety of papers, on occasion drawing blood and bodily fluids along with the inks.

Punch Drunk is a group of plaster casts made last year, by pouring casting plaster into the hollow inner chambers of fruit and vegetables – pumpkins, melons, papayas – and allowing the still-liquid material to settle into empty crevices and nooks inside the fruit. To clean the cast plaster, Gill enlisted the help of birds and insects, who pecked at seeds and excavated for the bits of pulp caught in the ridges and gullies in the forms, before doing the final cleaning herself. These sculptures are shown on a table finished in blackboard paint, a surface on which they become reminders of sticks of chalk – they are after all more or less the same material, compounds of calcium – that might teach the attentive viewer the inner workings of vegetables, and the methods of human-animal-microbe-plant collaborations.

Weeds of my parents’ garden are photographs, in colour and black-and-white, of weeds in the garden of Gill’s childhood home. Another instance of her longstanding activity of recording detritus and unwanted things on film, these photographs unexpectedly echo the styles and compositions in amateur photography magazines from the Fifties and Sixties, like those belonging to her father and still kept in the library of that home. The choice of paper and processing methods give the photos the colour and tonal range of these offset magazine pages, in spite of Gill’s photographs being traditional darkroom prints. ‘The old chasing the older’ might be a way to describe the final result: one obsolete process trying to look like another.

Download complete text and list of works here