For a certain kind of sculpture to be made, places like Palmer need to exist. The primary reason? It has to fight for survival. When it comes to art, Palmer is a hostile environment. Each work sited here has to grapple alone with demanding terrain rather than lean on others for visual support in more curated surroundings. Importantly they all have room to breathe. The end result is that the viewer has multiple opportunities to engage.
Approaching Carlotta Brunetti’s Drops, for example, involves calculating how far to walk and from what position to best view it. The white sand which defines the ‘water drops’ has already begun to disperse with the action of wind, creating a ghost image of its original state. This work reinserts the concept of liquidity into the Palmer conversation. An ebb and flow dynamic has always been part of the Palmer sculptural experience. Works viewed from a distance tend to shimmer and dissolve in the heat and glaring light. Brunetti’s work reminds the viewer that stasis and instability are partners in a dance of probabilities. Incidentally this idea of juxtaposing separate entities is also the driving force behind Geoffrey Bartlett’s Embrace# 2, a swaying alliance of curvature and spikiness. Allied to fluidity is the idea of flight and weightlessness.
There are a number of works in the 2020 Palmer Sculpture Biennial which play off the gravid mass of the boulder-strewn landscape with senses of soaring freedom associated with birds, clouds and wind-snapped fabrics. Elizabeth Close and Clancy Warner have collaborated on a totemic form, Of the Land and the Sky, which is clearly inspired by the triumphant spread of a raptor’s wings as it hovers over the land.
The infill patterns of the cloisonné- like designs imply hieratic benediction. Incidentally Will Powrie’s ‘nest’ (Industrial Incubator) acts as a companion piece nearby, an eyrie for a mechanical age complete with spanner for maternal beak – another example of how, given reflection, different works in this and other Palmer Biennials create their own circles of conversations. Alexander Arcus’ Thoughts on Water Over Rocks harnesses the massed fluttering of fabric pennants to “create a large shimmering object with constantly changing colours and patterns within it, like a fast moving mountain stream or clouds over water”.