12 November 2016 to 14 January 2017
Responding to the Heathcote site through a series of experiential art constructions, Restraint delves into the space between ideas of landscape; the setting of the peninsula overlooking the Swan River, and the formal augmentation of the buildings on the site of the former mental health facility. Light inspired artwork and low frequency sound works combine with sculptural constructions in timber and canvas, creating a reflective installation.
The exhibition is an investigation of the Heathcote site as marker of change. Point Heathcote, known as Goolugatup in the Noongar language, is a distinct feature of the Swan River landscape. The river flows down the coastal plane, following a looping path embracing the peninsula and winding around the City of Perth where fresh and salt waters meet. Here deep ecological systems are deeply intertwined with Indigenous culture.
Point Heathcote is a magical site, offering a view into the distance, where the sun rises over the eastern waters of the Swan River and arches across the botanical gardens of Kings Park before sinking slowly back into the river in the west with each passing day.
By night the moon follows in its own path
Leaving a trace of time in mercurial shift
In a blue moon once
In a full moon stance
This blood moon chance.
Heathcote Hospital time is counted out by its four-faced, red and white brick clock tower, aligned with the University of Western Australia’s Winthrop Hall clock tower, visible across the open waters. There is a myth of a third clock tower to the south, whose sighting is elusive and lost to historical account, shrouded in mystery and Perth suburban folklore. All four clock faces of the Heathcote tower remain fixed in a mechanical moment. On each face, time is stuck out of sync, slightly displaced. The west face reads 3:15, east 3:14, south 3:18 and north at 3:16. History’s chronology is missing in the offbeat, spaced and discordant.
The interior of what is now Heathcote Museum & Gallery in Swan House reflects the former institution’s architectural presence in a cluster of red brick, single story buildings where the "order of things” (Michele Foucault, 1966) is evident through long corridors, defined thresholds and secure isolation rooms with doors left tempting and open. Others are locked and framed by sliding apertures. Adjacent is a gallery of spaces, one leads into the end of another. Interior windows punctuate glass-framed doors, each painted over. Another space leads to a museum of early medical instruments on display in sealed cases, creating an uncanny reminder of the building’s history. On a nearby wall layers of the past are revealed, like an archeological strata of time, as paint layering is uncovered. Heavy painted glass doors evoke the work British artist Martin Creed (1968), in which the artist describes how all the mirrors in the family home were painted over. Creed believes that these thick, paint obscured mirrors influenced the artist’s work, where ‘reflection’ was obscured, requiring the individual to actively construct a reality on the wall.
Immanuel Kant said, ‘All our knowledge begins with the senses’, (The Critique of Pure Reason, 1781). Restraint responds to the Heathcote site through a series of artworks that formally augment a ‘sense’ of the former mental health facility and its situation, high on a dramatic peninsula overlooking the Swan River. Low frequency light works pulse in an intimate breath, rising and falling. This liminal, corporeal experience of ‘lightness’ combines with sculptural constructions in timber and canvas to examine a spatial and temporal organisation. Light work, cloth and timber constructions frame this sense of otherness.
The constellation of artworks situates a structure of thought within the unrestrained.
Pin-hole camera images create a record of site, these are placed alongside sculptural constructions framing other views all wrapped in felt textiles form which flow across the space. These artworks intend are intended to disrupt the time code, highlighting a phase shift of ideas embedded with in a temporal constraint.
Restraint is a development in the Artist’s work, where site is integral to the generation of concepts that manifest as material and elemental responses to the history of places and their changing conditions, thereby breaking down levels of consciousness and releasing the mind to create other understandings of this place.
Honorary research Fellow
The University of Western Australia
In the catalogue would you please acknowledge small credits
Jon acknowledges the following.
Neon Light: George Write
Timber: Matt Dickmann
Photography: Jon Tarry
Photography: Tobias Titz
Jon wants to thank Jana and staff at Heatcote Museum & Gallery for ongoing support of the arts and in particular this project.
The Tilt program is part of the annual exhibition schedule and has been developed by Heathcote Museum & Gallery to support local art practice, inquiry and arts practitioners. Each year an artist is invited to respond to the Point Heathcote site, with its many layered history, by creating a new body of work. Tilt provides local artists with an opportunity to bring a range of ideas and practice to new audiences, plus engage with a heritage site. Tilt is an invitational exhibition.
This year’s Tilt artist Jon Tarry has taken an unrestrained approach to responding to the site of Point Heathcote. Tarry has explored each and every corner of the site, to reimagine the institutional narrative, the physical reminders of the past have been brought into focus. Tarry uses light, texture and mood to transform the viewers experience as they move through the space. Feeling the presence, the absence, the past as once again the individual rooms of Heathcote begin to tell their own story through the artists gaze.
Jana Wallace Braddock - Curator