Sometimes the shotgun marriage between art and history gets it right. Make History is a good example of how the creative talents of artists can take material history on a journey way beyond the earnest efforts of social historians.
A strong line up of artists; Beverley Southcott, Rachel Harris, Dave Archer, Marie Littlewood, Stephanie Radok, Annabelle Collett, Ryan Sims, Debbie Pryor, Sera Waters, Lauren Simeoni, Wendy Dixon-Whiley, Deb Twining, and Andrew Dearman has been co-opted to respond to items from the Hahandorf Academy’s collection — with surprising results.
Stephanie Radok for example reflects on the legacy of the remarkable T. W. Boehm who established the Hahndorf Academy in the mid 19th century as a school for local kids. His curriculum included the arts, philosophy and history (along with the sciences, maths etc) which didn’t sit well with the Bible bashers of the day.
Radok’s inventive referencing of chalk board slates to materialize learning, contributes intellectual ballast to the project. Deborah Twining channels the spirit of another outstanding individual, Bertha Schmidtke who in 1919 established a maternity hospital on the site, where an estimated 1000 babies were born in the very room in which Twining’s work is displayed. Maybe an installation of 1000 nappies next time around.
Ryan Sims’ ties dipped in blue ink, recall the disaster prone duties of long forgotten ink monitors. Lauren Simeoni’s porcelain teeth riffs off the fact that a fang strangler once prowled the very corridors of this building. It’s that kind of show — gloriously unhinged on the margins but ultimately respectful of source.
This humble little building will never seem the same.
Until May 27
Header image: Stephanie Radok, Alphabet