Incident 1992/2011

September 9 - October 1, 2011

Neil Dawson



Incident   Incident

Neil Dawson has long been interested in reflection, in playing sculpturally with notions of mirror image, the shard and the fragment. Several works in this exhibition, Incident, manifest exactly these concerns.

IncidentThe titlework - reprising an installation made originally for Luba Bilu Gallery, Melbourne in 1992 - uses the mirror as both subject and form. Three pairs of chairs are suspended in space, each reflecting the other either side of a big gold frame. Each element is folded elegantly out of aluminium mesh, to be light and almost defying belief. This is particularly so with the colliding chairs - the pair that touch along the imaginary mirror plane. Theirs is a complex sculptural object: angled planes incidental to one another that seem to vary in density depending on one's viewpoint. For this is the quality of mesh Dawson so enjoys; its faceted construction at times dark and dense, or silvered and insignificant depending upon the angle of view. Hence the experience of this installation is primarily a matter of tone. This is sculpture as shadow dancing, conjuring in a way you may never have seen before.

Incident    Incident

Several wall works also comprise this exhibition. Fashioned over the last year, they reflect life in Christchurch's quake zone. Dawson has adapted two recording technologies of earthquake science, the seismograph and the pulsing circles of the Christchurch Quake Map site ( in series called Plates and Pulse Discs respectively.

Requiem (detail)The latter are coloured edition pieces, digitally printed onto acrylic, with a delicate physical presence just off the wall. The Plate works are weightier pieces, laser cut in steel, then carefully painted. Cleverly, the jagged line of the seismograph becomes a fissure. So that in the pale pearlescence of Requiem, a plate of willow pattern is cracked right down the middle.

Plates1In Plates1, a similar sense of rupture seems to foreground the image, running as it does along the bottom of the work, while from above the plate is cleaved almost by divine intervention. The destabilizing movement of plate tectonics is deftly suggested here. But it is the unerring sense of pattern - a sense of fragment and of shards repeated, poised and in the end made coherent, that is pivotal in these works of Neil Dawson's.

Where once it might have been the repeated lozenge of mesh - soldered, folded and tied by hand - that made Dawson's sculpture fly, now it is more likely computer scanning, laser cutting and industrial printing technologies that materially drive the work. The joy of all this is however, that in Incident this is only part of what you see.

Plates2  Pulse Disc1  Pulse Disc4


List of Works:

Incident, 1992/2011
aluminium mesh, dimensions variable

Plates 1, 2010
blue painted steel, 1200 x 1400 x 150mm

Plates 2, 2011
red painted steel, 1100 x 1100 x 100mm

Requiem, 2011
pearl painted steel, 790 x 1510 x 100mm

Pulse Discs No's 1-5, 2011
digital print on acrylic, 500mm diameter
edition of 6