Beyond the Opening

-- Demystifying Contemporary Art --

HANNAH BERTRAM | Emerging from and disappearing towards dust

This is a detailed and quiet exhibition with surprises at every turn. Hannah tells a compelling story and uses diverse mediums to share her exploration and her practise. Pictures really do not suffice. Hannah has created an experience – go check it out.

Stepping into the dark cool my eyes need to adjust. There is an office to my right, a corridor in front, and dark space to my left. Which way? Who’s showing? Why? I need to ask. I round the corner to my left and seek out the light from between deep shadow. An eclectic collection of frames arranged in the corner of the gallery display what seem to be graphite dust smudged onto crumpled, frayed and folded material, paper or fabric – something that has come out of one’s pocket.

On the facing wall are spot lit semi-circles of lacework doylies and circular patterns mounted to the wall like a small shelf and spot lit, their silhouettes and shadows are reminiscent of Edwardian iron lacework. I see illuminated glass cylinders – a row of tall narrow jars filled with specimens to varying heights: concrete dust, hair, dirt, plaster, sand – with location and date noted. The dullness and ordinariness of each individual specimen made extraordinary in unity, illumination and commitment to the process of collecting itself.

Around the corner, projected, is a small group scraping, searching, crouched, moving in unison, back and forth, over and over a closed forgotten dusty inner city space – probably a car park. Their process is formal, calculated. They seem mesmerised in their movement, I become mesmerised. They seem to be collecting or searching for something, leaving every grain of sand (or speck of dust?) untouched.

The final work in Hannah’s show took me by surprise: a summary of an Edwardian tiled floor. Geometric shapes, pattern, terracotta, cream. Hannah has summarised a complete Edwardian tiled floor and then sweeps through it, literally, with a broom. The mark of the maker? Disruption.

Covering over the works, committing them to memory, I make my way out. I see the title of the show plastered to a wall facing the exhibition, blind to those entering. I turn to the front door and spot the Exhibition Sheet, I pick it up and exit, into the blaring sun.

3 February to 11 February 2017

Margaret Lawrence Gallery

Victorian College of the Arts | The University of Melbourne


15 Dusty rags used to clean artworks in the storeroom of Latrobe University.

Image courtesy of H.Bertram


Dust from 13 homes, glass shelves, shadows and reflections.

Image courtesy of H.Bertram


Samples of unfiltered dust gathered and used for multiple installations.

Image J.Edge


Dusts collected from chimneys, deserts, parks, homes, studios, workshops, construction sites, gutters and previous versions of this work.

Image J.Edge