Haffendi Anuar

Haffendi Anuar

Haffendi Anuar (b. 1985, Malaysia) is an artist based in Kuala Lumpur. He works with a variety of media and disciplines such as drawing, painting, sculpture and photography. He did his International Baccalaureate certificate in fine art at the International School of Kuala Lumpur, his foundation at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence and his BA honors at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. In between his studies, he worked as a model maker at T.R Hamzah and Yeang in KL, studied Mandarin in China, worked in an art gallery in London and Kuala Lumpur and assisted artists in studios in London (Hew Locke and Nicolas Deshayes). He has exhibited locally and abroad.

Haffendi is a multidisciplinary artist. Mining history of art, digital technology, nature and local contexts, he creates object-based works that recycle found images, objects and artistic styles from digital and local sources. He was previously at Rimbun Dahan for a one-month residency in 2015, via a collaboration with Richard Koh Fine Art. This time he will be doing a four month residency alongside fellow artist Veronika Neukirch.

Le Hoang Bich Phuong

Le Hoang Bich Phuong

Le Hoang Bich Phuong (b. 1984) is a visual artist based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Her art is an outlet for expression and a means to deliver her concerns regarding sexuality and eccentricity. Recently, Phuong’s focus has shifted more toward nature, time, space and social awareness in her country, Vietnam.

Even though Vietnamese culture doesn’t emphasize on individuality, I often wonder about the state of individuality in the other countries. My works are usually a blend of imagery of human sexual organs twisted into seemingly familiar distortions and contrast elements that do not seem to belong together. For me, these unlikely combinations often create the perfect piece. I have been using Vietnamese traditional silk paintings as my primary medium, but I always experiment with new mediums as it could be the new language in my art. I enjoy reflecting my thoughts on contemporary issues through art, using traditional medium and materials as a way to challenge to the dogmas of society.

To view more of Phuong’s work, visit her website. You can also view the process of making one of her works (pictures below), here on YouTube.

Al-khuzairie Ali

Al-khuzairie Ali

Al-khuzairie Ali (b. 1984) hails from the Malaysian state of Pahang and works with ceramics. He will be at Rimbun Dahan as a resident artist from July to December 2015. You can view some of his past works on his blog.

Artist Statement

I look at the hideous side of the human character which has an impact on other beings in the ecosystem. My work is inspired by the life of the animal. We know that some animals are threatened with extinction. The modern world and the importance of money simply make people lose their judgment and ignore the nature of life. Will future generations be able to see the wildlife species that exist now?

Hasanul Isyraf Idris

Hasanul Isyraf Idris

Hasanul Isyraf Idris (b. 1978, Malaysia) was trained at Mara University of Technology, UiTM, in Perak. He has received a number of awards, including the Young Contemporary Arts Award in 2007 at the National Visual Arts Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, the Incentive Award at the  Open Show held at the Shah Alam Gallery and the Consolation Prize for the Young Talent Art  Exhibition at the Penang Art Gallery. A highly elusive artist, Hasanul shuns attending openings and attempts to work anonymously in the art scene. He produces works in a variety of media, from paintings and meticulously crafted drawings to painted oven-baked clay sculptures. Mining inspiration from within, he articulates his personal struggles as an artist by personifying them as strange characters  that inhabit his invented universes. Influenced by the graphics of underground comic books,  1960s science fiction, fast food, and street art and fashion, he juggles pop-culture references  with a personal viewpoint. Recurring topics in his practice are the meaning of life and death, memories and fantasies and sin and reward.

Hasanul will be at Rimbun Dahan as a resident artist for the month of June 2015, via a collaboration with Richard Koh Fine Art.

Tran Dan

Tran Dan

Tran Dan studied architecture in university, but his artistic career is built on self-taught painting and sculpture. His primal medium is lacquer, which is widely represented and used in Vietnamese traditional and modern arts. Tran is keen to further develop its form and use in art: lacquer with/as mix-material paintings/sculptures or (video) installations. He has made full use of Rimbun Dahan’s gardens and surroundings for materials to make into lacquers and paints. His collaborations with foreign cultural institutions in Vietnam, such as British Council, Embassy of Denmark, L’espace French Cultural Centre, and The Japan Foundation Center for Cultural Exchange have resulted in experimental videos and performances about human consciousness, dreams, Vietnamese culture, and food. Tran has also opened an independent art space in Hanoi where he organizes and directs programs for local and international artists. His recent lacquer paintings are inspired by the relationship between humans and animals, and by the power of humans and nature. Tran’s work explores the dreamlike rhythm of life, stories that are repeated every night; this also speaks to existentialism, a theme he consistently returns to.

For more information on Tran Dan and his work, visit his blog or his Facebook page.

Anniketyni Madian

Anniketyni Madian

Artist’s statement:

annikAnniketyni Madian is a Sarawakian artist who is currently creating a stir in the local art scene with her sculptural works. Fresh, energetic and visually arresting, her current works are an embodiment of her love for her native culture. Deriving her inspiration from the exotic Pua Kumbu textiles, her works are given a personal, contemporary touch which makes every sculpture a unique piece. She translates her works from two-dimensional drawing of Pua Kumbu patterns to a painstaking three dimensional sculptures , creating an interesting perspective and depth to her works. One cannot fail to notice the intricacies of her complex work where each slice of wood is minutely detailed and perfectly aligned in order create a smooth, seamless flow.

Having progressively paved her way in a scene which is largely dominated by male artists, Anniketyni’s sculptural journey is currently ongoing at Rimbun Dahan. Come interact and watch the artist delve into the intricacies of her complex work that narrates the beauty of her heritage in her very own language. The open studio residency will take place on 6 September 2014 and is open to public from all walks of life.

Text by Mona Kv.

 

Sabri Idrus

Sabri Idrus
Canggai. 2014. Wood, metal, copper & charcoal. 200 cm (diameter).

Canggai. 2014. Wood, metal, copper & charcoal. 200 cm (diameter).

Sabri Idrus was the Malaysian Artist for the Malaysia-Australia Visual Arts Residency 2013.

Artist’s biography:

sabri_profileSabri Idrus, (b. 1971, Kedah, Malaysia) is an artist best defined by his compulsion to experiment with media. Oscillating between a career as an artist and a successful graphic designer, Sabri studied fine arts at UiTM from 1995-1998. Received The Malaysia Young Contemporary Art Award in the painting category in the year 2004 and A Special Mention Award for the UOB Art 2011. Sabri’s works are held in private and public collections in the United Kingdom, Poland, Singapore, America, India, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Malaysia. He has participated in residencies in Poland, Indonesia and Rimbun Dahan, Malaysia. Sabri Idrus lives and works in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Sabri is a constant researcher in the process of art making, specifically in his endless search in the production of prints, marks and traces as the notion of visual representation that operate as his medium in conveying his research and thoughts.

Disruptive Nature

Disrupting materials and surfaces are the main interests for the development of this series, simply entitled Disruptive Nature. Further developing his interest in mark making – a preoccupation with surfaces, spatial stacking, temporality and organic fluid forms (The Search of the Uncertainties, 1999), Sabri Idrus continues his semiotic-reference in art making by tracing down patterns of nature. Leaves, trunks and twigs were scanned and studied in order to understand the basic properties of these elements of nature. From his earlier experimentation with industrial materials, that had the objective of venturing into alternative media such as painted surfaces, this series of works marks a comeback for Sabri and his object making exercise. These processes of experimentation are a statement that echoes his search for creating new marks on new surfaces. How to create a desired effect on a particular material with its own specific characteristics, to be able to re-produce similar effects on different materials has been explored by Sabri in his long process in art making, and is further demonstrated this interpretation of ‘shadows’ as themed for the Rimbun Dahan showcase.

Taking advantage of his discoveries with industrial materials, Sabri, again, marks a change from his normal material play, venturing into the more subtle realm of natural patterns, forms and characteristics. The natural patterns he has discovered and mimicked on his choice of surfaces reveal their latent qualities in a two-dimensional manner. Sabri’s series of studies were then reconstructed using a very similar method to his deconstruction in order to transform them into three-dimensional sculptures. Only this time, the traces of patterns and surfaces were extruded to create solid forms coupled with the real natural patterns that originated from the material itself. These processes are not an escapism from his earlier ‘difficult’ process in producing his works, but rather should be seen as a new adventure of developing a more advanced understanding of the manifestation of moments that reconcile nature with the unnatural.

Researching within the natural context of Rimbun Dahan, coupled with his seminal research on natural and man-made elements from his residency period in Poland, and through in-depth studies of the architectural works of Anthony Viscardi, Sabri’s latest works examine the qualities shared between art and architecture through explorations of solid and void, presence and absence, static and dynamic, and material and ephemeral continuums. His daily observation of the site-specific elements of his work place at Rimbun Dahan has allowed him to capture measurable details in nature’s natural moment, where tactility and space-time relation of the natural evolution are always visible. The nature of observation places one’s visual sense in an almost circular perspective (looking at the surrounding in 360 degrees) and has been recorded, photographed, memorized and sometime distorted into the physical being of the artwork itself. Sabri’s observations have been replicated in the form of circles, reflecting the way he looks at things around him. The conflicting elements of the natural and unnatural characteristics of these objects were further elaborated through detailing and specific material usage, hoping the artwork would be able to present itself as a signifier of the context that they represent.

What Sabri is interested in is that the work should not represent itself as an object to be confronted, making the viewers merely face the subject, but rather to create a feeling of being wrapped in it, as though it were our shadow.

Shadow and light is a dual reality, the hypertrophy of a double sensation: there can be cavernous, dark, soft, humid, sensorial, crystalized, cold, luminous, and all this can be used like an individual zapping of perception. Return to text…

Masa Series: A Reduction Process (pp. 17). Return to text…

Le Thua Tien

Le Thua Tien

Le Thua Tien has a diverse art practice that includes paintings, installation, experimentation with sculpture and community based art projects. The direction of Tien’s paintings changed from figurative to abstract when he arrived at the Rijks Academy in Amsterdam in 1995. Some of his most recent works are mixed media and lacquer and can be considered symbolic of his subjects. He is one of Vietnam’s few artists who address the American War in his works. His work also tends to be more conceptual than many other Vietnamese artists. His work has been displayed in the United States, Thailand, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Venezuela, Japan, and Australia. Le Thua Tien lectured at the Fine Arts University in Hue, Vietnam, from 1989 to 2008. He now lives and works in Hue.

About the Residency

The Haiku Path Project in Rimbun Dahan is a sculpture / installation project. It contains a series of selected haiku poems, engraved onto granite slabs, arranged along the walking paths of Rimbun Dahan’s garden. The granite used in this project is recycled material. By laying it back to the ground; with time, the slabs will embed themselves into the forest.

The project aims to:

  • Introduce haiku to the Malaysian public.
  • Create a walking path through Rimbun Dahan’s compound, where visitors can approach the sculpture/poem works in different locations.

The first stage of the project, created in February 2013, features 5 haiku poems written by Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) [with English translation by R. H. Blyth] and two poems by Mike Ladd (b.1959), a former Rimbun Dahan artist in residence. Tien considers The Haiku Path Project an ongoing project and plans to add more poems to the compound.

Haiku (Hi-koo) is a traditional Japanese verse form, notable for its compression and suggestiveness. In the three lines totalling seventeen syllables measuring 5-7-5, a great haiku presents, through imaginary drawn from intensely careful observation, a web of associated ideas (renso) requiring an active mind on the part of the listener. The form emerged during the 16th century and was developed by the poet Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) into the refined medium of Buddhist and Taoist symbolism.

Dan Wollmering

Dan Wollmering

dan

Lately, I have been trying to reduce the clutter that inundates our lives. Whether its junk mail, email spam or just ‘things’ that build up over time in the bottom kitchen drawer, the backyard shed or those items that suddenly make their appearance when rifling through the wardrobe, closet, bookshelves or unopened boxes − throwing out is satisfying.

As a sculptor, clutter is a constant companion in the studio. I find it difficult to depose of anything that inhabits a sense of wonder and aesthetic potential – compounded by the fact that someday, it could form the basis of a new sculpture.

For the last five years or so, much of my practice has followed suit; whereby, my aim is to reduce and crystallise the essence of the form and thus the concept. It follows in the tradition of Minimalism – perhaps less of the ‘hard edge’ and more of the ‘organic’ type.

In this manner, the work is abstract, sometimes familiar and sometimes ambiguous in their final character. Stable and unstable, expanding and contracting, the forms may also suggest references to a secret and mysterious life form; one of less perplexity and in keeping with the forces of a self-ordering system of modular construction and organic unity.

As a sculptor, I am forever cognisant of the rich and marvellous history of both eastern and western sculpture traditions, and to that end, my small gestures and contributions to an expanding and vibrant culture and arguably, one of the most challenging disciplines in the visual arts.

clutter

About the Artist

Dan Wollmering was born in St. Paul Minnesota, USA and immigrated to Australia in 1975. He is currently Senior Lecturer in the Department of Fine Arts and Sculpture Studio Coordinator, Faculty of Art and Design, Monash University.

Wollmering holds the following degrees: BA, MFA and PhD and has held 25 solo exhibitions and work included in over 40 group exhibitions internationally. Completing major public artworks in Australia, China and the USA, he was recently awarded the prestigious Contempora Sculpture Award for a socio/political work that part sculpture and part architecture. He has participated in overseas residencies including Malaysia, USA, and the Ninth Guilin International Sculpture Symposium in Southern China. A recipient of the Dame Elizabeth Murdoch Sculpture Award (CSA), he also received a Nomination Award for the Beijing Olympic Park Sculpture Design Competition. His work is represented in private, corporate and public collections including Regional Galleries and Universities in Victoria.

The artist is represented by Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne and BMGArt, Adelaide.

 

dot-net-dot-au

dot-net-dot-au
Tim Craker, 'Botanical Data File #3'. Plastic safety fencing, hand-cut. 205 x 300 cm. 2008. Now in the permanent collection at Rimbun Dahan.

Tim Craker, ‘Botanical Data File #3’. Plastic safety fencing, hand-cut. 205 x 300 cm. 2008. Now in the permanent collection at Rimbun Dahan.

dot-net-dot-au was an art exhibition by Tim Craker and Louise Saxton, who separately undertook short term artist residencies at Rimbun Dahan gallery in Malaysia in 2006, exploring their most vivid impressions of the time they’ve spent travelling between their home country and Malaysia. dot-net-dot-au is an artistic meditation on the links that bind us geographically and metaphorically.

The exhibition travelled to Malaysia and Singapore. In Kuala Lumpur it was presented at The Annexe Gallery, Central Market, 10-27 July 2008, where it was supported by the Australian High Commission, Kuala Lumpur. In Singapore it appeared at The Substation, 5-17 August 2008.

Tim Craker and Louise Saxton produced two individual series of artworks that surprisingly complement and work in tandem with one another. Put side by side, the collection of works reveal a disarmingly quirky and personal insight into the experiences of two artists exploring Malaysian life and culture as outsiders.

Running through the entire series is Tim Craker’s elaboration of the net, literally and metaphorically. The net describes communication links, the sieve of memory, a tool to capture experiences and also the imaginary walls that separate cultures.

Interspersed among the nets are Louise Saxton’s insects, flowers and human figures meticulously put together from embroidered and quilted fabric. The effect is an artistic reenactment of the two artists’ process as they absorb, understand and meditate on Malaysian life and culture as outsiders.

dot-net-dot-au was also a continuation of their exhibition dot-net-dot-my at the Red Gallery Contemporary Art Space, in Melbourne, Australia, in 2007.

Above: Tim Craker, detail of 'Thought Pattern', plastic chinese soup spoons, nylon thread. 250 x 400cm. 2007.

Above: Tim Craker, detail of ‘Thought Pattern’, plastic chinese soup spoons, nylon thread. 250 x 400cm. 2007.

Exhibition Opening

The exhibition was opened on 10 July at 8pm by Angela Hijjas:

It is a great pleasure to be here to open this show for Louise Saxton and Tim Craker, a show that was partially generated by our Rimbun Dahan residency programme. 2006, when Tim and Louise were resident, was a good year for us as we started inviting artists for shorter periods than the usual year long programme. That year we had a rich assembly of artists, coming and going, overlapping with different experiences from Malaysia and Australia. We hadn’t considered doing this before, as until then we had looked for people who could stay for a year, making organization easier for us, but we subsequently realized how great an impact a shorter stay in a new environment can have on creativity.

Tim and Louise are testament to that. Louise stayed with us for just a month, as that was all the time she could spare from a young family and commitments in Melbourne. For Tim, who was with us for three months, it was a chance for him, as he put it, to live as an artist, and it then precipitated the decision to leave his profession as a veterinarian to embrace his real passion, making art.

It is now obvious to me that life altering experiences don’t necessarily take a year; a month or three can be enough to generate new views of the world and significant developments in an artist’s practice. Subsequently Rimbun Dahan began inviting choreographers and performance artists as well, adding to the variety of interactions and new ideas. So I owe a lot to Tim and Louise for their contribution to Rimbun Dahan, and for their efforts since in developing their early ideas into these works in the Annexe today.  Inspiration can come suddenly, but a solid art practice requires time to digest the concepts into new forms and expression.

I was lucky enough to see the beginnings of this show when it was first exhibited in Australia last year, and the potential was obvious. Despite their very different styles, both artists found common ground, not just in the net, but in the everyday experiences that are so easily overlooked in a world sated with materialism.

Above: Detail of Star Flower, cotton and linen embroidery, steel pins on nylon bridal tulle, 300 x 180cm approx, 2008. Now in the permanent collection at Rimbun Dahan.

Above: Detail of Star Flower, cotton and linen embroidery, steel pins on nylon bridal tulle, 300 x 180cm approx, 2008. Now in the permanent collection at Rimbun Dahan.

Louise takes the delicate hand made laces and embroideries of past decades, pieces that would have been treasured as part of a bride’s glory box, that today we rarely appreciate or examine in detail, sated as we are with too many material possessions. She carefully dissects and recasts these delicate pieces into creatures and installations that are suddenly contemporary, forcing us to look closely, to examine the minute detail and to appreciate such a visual treat in our mass produced world. By transforming lacey detail into fantastic insects, she is making a world of fantasy animals that would do nature proud. Some of her animals are indeed real, like the hornbill and koala, but when she expresses them with just a negative space we are reminded of how ephemeral the real world is, and how linked we are to our short term material possessions rather than to the really important things like birds and animals facing extinction.

By contrast, as if from the other end of the continuum, Tim takes inspiration from mass produced plastic paraphernalia that has never enjoyed much aesthetic appeal… but he transforms it into something unique and stunning, in scale and form. In 2006 he made a work for Art for Nature on the theme of appetites, all about food and its roles in our lives. Tim created a huge net of linked disposable wooden chopsticks draped in the light well of our gallery; like a fishing net it was an immense Chinese banquet “celebrating” our disposable culture. With his pieces here today, he has gone further, by choosing new disposable items and binding and cutting into them to create something beautiful and puzzling. Beautiful because of the shift in scale and the surprisingly tactile effect of plastic, and puzzling because of the complete reversal of ideas of durability and impermanence. I just wish he could do something with the orange plastic barrier blocks that now litter our roads at every turn… being stuck in a traffic jam might be a better experience for some artful transformation of the detritus that surrounds us.

Louise and Tim came to Rimbun Dahan, after being art students in Melbourne together some years before, and again in this show. Their works are from very different perspectives, and yet they reverberate against each other to create a stunning exhibition. We are honoured to have this work visit Malaysia, and for that I would like to thank the Australian High Commissions, both in KL and in Singapore for their support. Unfortunately most of the High Commission staff, including the High Commissioner herself, could not be here tonight because of an official visit from the Australian Prime Minister, but I’m sure Tim and Louise would want to thank them for the support that made the show possible.

Thank you all for coming, and I’m sure you will enjoy the show. Congratulations to both Louise Saxton and Tim Craker for a stunning exhibition that illustrates superbly what both Australian and Malaysian artists are working towards: new expression, new materials and new ideas.   And I’m sure you will all enjoy it. Thank you.

Re-Collection: arachnida bellis perennis – daisy spider, cotton embroidery, silk, steel pins on nylon bridal tulle, approx 300 x 240cm, 2007.

Re-Collection: arachnida bellis perennis – daisy spider, cotton embroidery, silk, steel pins on nylon bridal tulle, approx 300 x 240cm, 2007.

Essay on the Exhibition

by Caroline Jordan

In 2006 Tim Craker and Louise Saxton undertook sequential short-term artist residencies at Rimbun Dahan in Malaysia.Rimbun Dahan is set on fourteen acres of lush indigenous gardens featuring a fully restored nineteenth-century Malay house. The location is beautiful but remote. Craker and Saxton were bodily transported from a cold, grey Melbourne winter into a humid tropical environment and exposed to more extreme contrasts as they moved between the seductive isolation of their garden retreat and the sensory overload of crowded Asian cities.

The work they separately completed on their return to Australia they link, literally and metaphorically, to the net – a term of multiple references. Today, ‘the Net’ is everyday shorthand for the internet and the worldwide web, alluded to in the exhibition’s title dot-net-dot-au. Developed in Malaysia, made in Australia, exhibited in Melbourne and exported for viewing to Malaysia and Singapore, the exhibition is part of this contemporary globalised network of information exchange. The net as a physical entity also figures prominently, albeit very differently, in both artists’ work.

Above: Detail of A bird in the hand #1, cotton and linen embroidery, steel pins on nylon bridal tulle. 300 x 150cm approx. 2008.

Above: Detail of A bird in the hand #1, cotton and linen embroidery, steel pins on nylon bridal tulle. 300 x 150cm approx. 2008.

The bridal veil, made of the finest, translucent ivory-coloured net, forms the backing of Saxton’s embroidered wall pieces. This net marks a barrier between self and non-self, or, in the case of the bridal veil, a transition between one state of being (or possession) and another.

Psychologically ambiguous when considered in relation to the body, the net signifies protection but simultaneously advertises the presence of danger. The cosseted bride cocooned in her veil, or the baby breathing peacefully beneath a mosquito net, is insulated from threats lurking in the outside world. In other manifestations, like the spider’s web, the net intended to entangle and entrap is the danger.

Insect metaphors abound because the net, in many ways, defines our human interaction with them. The bee keeper goes swathed in net to collect her honey. The insect collector arms herself with the net and the jar to gather her specimens. Saxton uses embroidery pins to skewer her ‘specimens’ to the net for display. As the veil flutters gently and the pieces cast a shadow against the wall, they take on an illusory delicate life.

Saxton draws inspiration from a collection of women’s domestic crafts she has amassed over many years. Items such as hand-embroidered table linen and lace, once treasures destined for a bride’s glory-box, are now culturally obsolete in Australia and are commonly found discarded in charity shops. Saxton has added to this collection aesthetically-related crafts from other traditions, including Chinese papercuts and Indian wall embroidery. In a painstaking process of extraction and reconstruction that takes place over many hours, Saxton cuts, glues, stitches and backs hundreds of the tiny coloured textile or paper fragments into new configurations. Among the more common motifs found in the Western embroideries are butterflies and flowers, based on and debased from natural history prototypes going back to the eighteenth century. Influenced by this and the memory of the Malaysian garden, she transforms them into fantastical individual insects or cloud-like swarms. Lately, these have expanded into more complex compositions drawing on Asian spiritual imagery: henna hand stencils Saxton found in Kuala Lumpur, a seventh-century Cambodian Buddha head, traced from a book, the Yoga Tree of Life, a Chinese Cloud motif and a Star Flower, based on a Malay Islamic design. These compositions contain a motif-within-a-motif in the negative space in the centre of each work. For example, the Malaysian Hornbill sits within A bird in the Hand and the Australian Koala within Home-Tree. Both species are threatened. As Saxton explains: ‘The use of the negative form within the highly decorative outer motif becomes a metaphor of vulnerability and potential loss, (of species and also traditions) common to both our cultures.’

Detail of Tim Craker, 'Botanical Data File #3'. Plastic safety fencing, hand-cut. 205 x 300 cm. 2008. Now in the permanent collection at Rimbun Dahan.

Detail of Tim Craker, ‘Botanical Data File #3’. Plastic safety fencing, hand-cut. 205 x 300 cm. 2008. Now in the permanent collection at Rimbun Dahan.

As far removed from the individuality and preciousness of Saxton’s salvaged, decorative elements as possible, the elements of Craker’s grids, nets and patterns are mass-produced and interchangeable. Craker chooses items such as moulded plastic spoons, cups and lunch-boxes not only for their ‘transformative potential’, but because they are readily available, easily worked and, not least, cheap (650 plastic cups or fifty metres of orange safety fencing are still affordable). The abundance of these cheap throw-away objects gives the artist licence to experiment freely on a larger scale and to explore the potential of the multiple. As he observes, he likes making ‘something big out of something little’, or perhaps even, something out of nothing. Taken individually, these disposable, transparent, almost weightless objects are so self-effacing and familiar that they almost disappear into their surroundings. Taken together, as units linked into wall or floor-sized configurations they become monumental, although not overpowering. They retain a sense of provisional-ness as they buckle or sag, sway in the breeze or gleam in reflected light in response to subtle changes in their environment. By keeping his touch light, Craker draws out of the banality, even abjectness, of his materials an unexpected quality – grace.

Although Craker works within the staple of abstract art, the grid, and preserves and observes the integrity of his minimalist units, he is not interested in ‘pure’ formalism or in creating self-referential, impersonal systems.  Craker’s ‘recycling’ has a humanistic and environmentalist dimension. This is most clearly expressed in his Botanical Data Files series, in which leaves emerge as positive shapes from a snipped-away grid, the orange plastic leaf litter left in untidy drifts on the floor. Craker’s patterns refer to things in the world, among other things: genetic codes and their transcription errors, cellular arrays and honeycomb, three-dimensional computer drawing and molecular models. By juxtaposing the organic with the plastic and non-biodegradable in Botanical Data Files, Craker draws a different affect out of his despised materials, which he acknowledges as products of hyper-consumerism and an environmentally-destructive petrochemical industry. Similarly, his use of food utensils in such works as Cascade, Blanket and Ripple is not purely a matter of the expediency of a cheap available resource. He has said he is drawn to using food utensils, not only for the tactile attractions of their immediately-recognisable and particular shapes, but to what food and the sharing of food represents. Craker mentions the role food – recipes, preparation, eating – has played in the successful meeting of his family with that of his Malaysian partner. Food both epitomises cultural difference and offers the means to transcend it through common civilised rituals.

In dot-net-dot-au Saxton and Craker are concerned with identifying the threads of commonality that link their Malaysian experiences with their Australian lives – from the mutually-sustaining human traditions of ritual, food and the decorative arts to the global stresses on a fragile, shared environment. This travelling exhibition in Malaysia and Singapore brings their work full circle, back to its source. The Malaysian garden that once haunted the Australian studio now frames the work and reveals its hybridity from a different angle.

Photography on this page by Andrew Wuttke & Gavin Hansford.