missing walls: bureaucracy at work, 2007, is on the left with, on the right, a bookcase by Charlotte Perriand in collaboration with Jean Prouvé’s workshop for La Maison de la Tunisie student rooms at the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris in 1952-3, where the bookshelves doubled as room dividers.

Missing walls and Perriand’s bookshelf were exhibited in dialogue with each other in Minimalism and Applied II, 2011, as part of the Daimler Art Collection, Berlin.

Both are self-supporting three-dimensional abstract paintings.

As well, although the four missing walls are not, in themselves, bookshelves, they nevertheless house the missing space of a national library once planned for the crest of Canberra atop Capital Hill where Parliament House now stands, as initially designed by architects Walter Burley and Marion Mahony Griffin in their 1911 winning entry for Australia’s then burgeoning capital.

Marion Mahony was the first woman licensed to practise as an architect in Illinois, North America, and the first architect employed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It is here that Marion Mahony met Walter Burley Griffin.

Marion and Walter Burley Griffins’ Canberra competition entry in 1911 brought them to Australia where they then established a fruitful practice that generated many architectural gems in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.

The triangular structural unit that comprises the walls in missing walls and which allows each to stand on its own without the bulk of a wall, repeats the triangle at the centre of the Griffins’ plan for Canberra (see Mahony Griffin’s drawing below). The top of Capital Hill where the National Library was first intended, is at the apex of one triangle mirrored by another alongs its base that has Mt Ainslie at its apex. It is breathtaking, still today, to marvel at how the Griffins mapped a geometry over a natural terrain that, through it, invokes a symbolic and historic emphasis of the terrain

Marion’s drawings for Canberra were, from what I understand, rendered on silk. To replicate this, the plan in missing walls is likewise rendered with watercolour on silk.

Although missing walls is permanently in the Daimler Art Collection in Berlin, whenever exhibited — if lined up with North when exhibited — it is aligned with Canberra.

This library, albeit missing, was not the first nor last library included in the work.

This performance a passing thought-by-Gail-Hastings

A colour saturated image of books in a bookshelf is at the centre of an otherwise empty book modelled on Patrick White’s hardcopy first edition of Eye of the Storm. The same bookshelf is part of a floorpan demarcation in This Performance — A Passing Thought, 1989, at what was then 200 Gertrude Street but is now Gertrude Contemporary.

In This is not an art library, 1992, one half of the work’s circular chair was placed in Victoria’s State Library in hope a viewer might challenge the assertion to reply, at least to themselves, that, to the contrary, the chair is in the actual space of an art library unlike René Magritte’s 1929 picture of a pipe inscribed ‘Ceci n’est pas une pipe’ (This is not a pipe) in his The Treachery of Images.

In Movie Plots, public sculpture ‘Vault’, 1994, double sided shelves eschew in each rooms, house ‘tumbled books’. Vault is a public sculpture by Ron Robertson-Swann comprising large, yellow painted metal planes tumbled together in comparison to the un-tumbled city grid in which it then stood.

ENCYCLOPAEDIAS

A watercolour page from an ‘Encyclopaedia’ became an early component of a sculptural situation. Many of the first sculptuations were just a page, or number of pages, from an encyclopaedia alone. The following list of encyclopaedias begins with the more earlier sculptuations that consisted of a page, through to more complex sculptuations.

Encyclopaedia of Spatial Probabilities 1993 Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne, 1993

Encyclopaedia of Time and Communication 1993 Store 5, Melbourne, 1993

Encyclopaedia of a Moment’s Evidence 1993 Anna Schwartz, Melbourne, 1993; University Art Museum, Brisbane, 2003

Children’s Encyclopaedia 1993 Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne, 1993

Encyclopaedia of Love 1993 artists’ page, Circular #1

Adults Encyclopaedia 1993 artists’ page, Circular #2

Encyclopaedia of Waiting 1993 Plimsoll Gallery, Hobart, 1994

Encyclopaedia of Drawn Lines 1994 Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, 1994

Encyclopaedia of Meetings in Movies 1994 Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne, 1994

Encyclopaedia of Missing Rooms 1994 Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne, 1994

Encyclopaedia of Movie Directions for Secret Agents 1994 Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne, 1994; David Pestorius Gallery, Brisbane, 1997; Museum of Modern Art at Heide, Melbourne, 1998; Goddard de Fiddes, Perth, 2000

Encyclopaedia of a Movie Movement 1994 Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne, 1994

Encyclopaedia of Movie Movements 1994 Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne, 1994; Metro Arts, Brisbane, 1999

Encyclopaedia of Movie Plots 1994 Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne, 1994

Encyclopaedia of a Movie Set 1994 Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne, 1994

Encyclopaedia of a Movie 1994 Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne, 1994

Encyclopaedia of a Movie 1994 caption: fig. 4 — library: spot of afternoon sun on the pavement outside the State Library, Melbourne; Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne, 1994

Encyclopaedia of Spatial Specifications 1994 Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne, 1994

Encyclopaedia of Stairs 1994 Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne, 1994

Encyclopaedia 1995 David Pestorius Gallery, Brisbane, 1995

Encyclopaedia 1995 blue-grey-green, 1995, David Pestorius Gallery, Brisbane, 1995; red-pink-beige, 1995, David Pestorius Gallery, Brisbane, 1995; green-grey-green, 1995, David Pestorius Gallery, Brisbane, 1995

Encyclopaedia for Writing the Time 1995 David Pestorius Gallery, Brisbane, 1996

Encyclopaedia at the Heart of Art 1995 David Pestorius Gallery, Brisbane, 1996 and 1998

Encyclopaedia of Time 1995 David Pestorius Gallery, Brisbane, 1996; Metro Arts, Brisbane, 1999

Encyclopaedia of Broken Patterns 1995 David Pestorius Gallery, Brisbane, 1995; Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, NSW, 1996

Encyclopaedia of changing patterns 1995

Encyclopaedia of Flops 1995 David Pestorius Gallery, Brisbane, 1996; Haus am Waldsee, Berlin, 1997

Encyclopaedia of Forgetfulness 1995 David Pestorius Gallery, Brisbane, 1996; Art 1997 Chicago — Navy Pier 1997; Statements Art 28‘97 Basel – Basel Messe 1997

Encyclopaedia of Possibilities 1995 Ausstellungsraum Thomas Taubert, Düsseldorf, 1995 ; Ausstellungsraum Thomas Taubert, Düsseldorf, 1995; Galerie Köstring/Maier, Munich, 1997

Encyclopaedia of Straight Lines 1995 David Pestorius Gallery, Brisbane, 1996; RMIT Gallery, Melbourne, 1996

Encyclopaedia of Unseen Time 1995 David Pestorius Gallery, Brisbane, 1995; National Gallery of Victoria and national tour, Melbourne, 1996

Encyclopaedia of Thoughtful Art 1995 Ausstellungsraum Thomas Taubert, Düsseldorf, 1995

Encyclopaedia of Words 1995 artist’s pages, Z International magazine; Museum of Modern Art at Heide, Melbourne, 1995; Metro Arts, Brisbane, 1999

Encyclopaedia of Broken Patterns 1995 David Pestorius Gallery, Brisbane, 1995; National Gallery of Victoria and national tour, Melbourne, 1996

Encyclopaedia of Silent Art 1996 Galerie Köstring/Maier, Munich, 1997, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra and national tour, 1998


Encyclopaedia of Calculated Time in Art 1996 Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne, 1996

Encyclopaedia of Contemporary Art 1996 Art 1997 Chicago — Navy Pier 1997; Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco, 1998; green; Pestorius Sweeney House 2000

Encyclopaedia of Time in Art 1996 Navy Pier, Chicago, 1996; David Pestorius Gallery, Brisbane, 1996; University Art Museum, Brisbane, 1996; Statements Art 28‘97 Basel – Basel Messe, Basel, 1997; Galerie Köstring/Maier, Munich, 1997, pestorius sweeney house, Brisbane, 2001; Metro Arts, Brisbane, 1999

Encyclopaedia of Forgetful Art 1996 Sarah Cottier Gallery, Sydney, 1996

Encyclopaedia of Timeless Art 1996 Artspace, Sydney, 1996; Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide, 1996; David Pestorius Gallery, Brisbane, 1996

Encyclopaedia of an Art Opinion 1997 art berlin — Messe Berlin 1997; Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 1998; Metro Arts, Brisbane, 1999; David Pestorius Gallery, Brisbane, 1998; Villa Merkel/Bahnwärterhaus, Esslingen, 1999

Encyclopaedia of Coincidence 1997 Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne, 1997

Encyclopaedia of Difficult Art Decisions 1997 art berlin — Messe Berlin, 1997; Australian Centre for Contemporary Art and national tour, 1998): wall six, 1998; art berlin — Messe Berlin, 1998

Encyclopaedia of Areas in Art 1997

Encyclopaedia of Ideas in Art 1997 Art 1997 Chicago — Navy Pier 1997

Forgotten Encyclopaedia 1997 Halle Eins, Munich, 1996; 24 Chruch Street, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, 1997

Encyclopaedia of Site Specific Art 1997 LA art fair — Chateaux Marmont, 1997; Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco, 1998; no. 21; Ausstellungsraum Thomas Taubert, Düsseldorf, 1997

Encyclopaedia of Looking at Contemporary Art 1997 Galerie Mark Müller, Zurich 1997; Goddard de Fiddes, Perth, 2000

Encyclopaedia of Patterns in Contemporary Art 1997 Haus am Waldsee, Berlin, 1997; Ausstellungsraum Thomas Taubert, Düsseldorf, 1997; Neues Museum Weserburg Bremen, 2002

Encyclopaedia of Order in Art 1997 Statements Art 28‘97 Basel – Basel Messe, 1997

Encyclopaedia of Spontaneous Art 1997 David Pestorius Gallery, Brisbane, 1997; Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide 1998; Museum of Art, Melbourne, 1998

Encyclopaedia of an Art Idea 1998 Bahnwärterhaus, Esslingen, 1998; Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, 1999

Encyclopaedia of Somewhere 1998 University Art Museum 2000

Encyclopaedia of Art Historical Documents 1998 Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco, 1998

Encyclopaedia of Missing Art 1998 Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco, 1998

Encyclopaedia of Interference in Art 1998 Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco, 1998

Encyclopaedia of Thoughts Lost in Art 1998 In the studio of Michael Wesely, Munich, 1998

Encyclopaedia of Views in Art 1999 Canberra Contemporary Art Space 1999

Encyclopaedia of Unnoticed Things 1999 David Pestorius Gallery, Berlin, 1999

Encyclopaedia of Reflections in Art 1999 University Art Museum, Brisbane, 1999

Encyclopaedia of Entrances 2000 Goddard de Fiddes, Perth, 2000

Encyclopaedia of a Tricky Situation 2000 Goddard de Fiddes, Perth, 2000; pestorius sweeney house, Brisbane, 2001

Encyclopaedia of Colour’s Addition 2000 Goddard de Fiddes, 2000

Encyclopaedia of Repetitions in Art 2000 Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2000

Encyclopaedia of This Work of Art That Isn’t, Quite Yet 2001 Penthouse & Pavement, Melbourne, 2001

Encyclopaedia of An Unfinished Painting 2002

Encyclopaedia of a Work of Art Yet To Be 2002-2004 Heide 1, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, 2003; The Cross Art Projects, Sydney, 2003

Encyclopaedia of Circles In Art 2002 Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery 2002

Encyclopaedia of Plans in Works of Art 2003 Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, 2003

Encyclopaedia of Art That Is Present, But Missing 2003 The Cross Art Projects, Sydney, 2003

Encyclopaedia of Invisible Art 2003 The Cross Art Projects, Sydney, 2003; Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne, 2005

Encyclopaedia of A Missing Picture To Enter, To Leave 2003 The Cross Art Projects, Sydney, 2003

Encyclopaedia of Observing Art Observations 2003 Mornington Peninsular Regional Art Gallery 2003

Encyclopaedia of secret works of art 2004

Encyclopaedia of the Art Missing in Art History 2005

Encyclopaedia of Art in Missing Moments 2007 Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney, 2007

Encyclopaedia of Difficult Art Decisions 2007 Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney, 2007

Encyclopaedia of Art on Walls Never Made 2007 Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney, 2007

Encyclopaedia of Actual Art 2007 Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney, 2007

CUPS AND CONVERSATIONS

I made this super 8 film to submit as my art history thesis at undergrad art college in 1988. For the accompanying end of year graduate exhibition, I framed the conversation fragments seen in the super 8 and arrayed them on the wall.

For the first two years I caught the number 16 tram from St Kilda to art college and back, dedicating the time on board to practising my drawing. After filling umpteen sketch books and developing a quick and accurate hand, one bleak morning I realised the drawings—often beautiful—didn’t grab me.

The conversations I overheard, however, increasingly did. Not necessarily their content, as the private ins and outs of a stranger’s life delivers little bearing. What instead caught me was the way two people supposedly conversing while sitting crammed next to each other, would appear to be in entirely separate rooms, separate spaces, describing different things—all under the guise of discussing the same thing in conversation.

Although the two in conversation shared the same physical space, their thoughts’ separate errands kept them from sharing any space.

Repeatedly, neither participant would be transported into the other’s concerns, neither would ponder the other’s worries, neither would follow the other’s ‘he did this then she did that, and, do you believe, well, I told her’, while shoulder to shoulder, staring off into the same distance awaiting their tram journey’s end.

In having invested all my time, money, hope, devotion and dreams learning to make sculpture—an object at the symbolic centre of a 360° spatial viewing circle—how might I learn to combat the simple disregard of the very space we share in which sculpture takes place?

No wonder few were interested in art, I thought, let alone a sculpture that stands shoulder to shoulder with a viewer in the same space replete with egalitarian notions of figuring real, not pictorial, space.

A tête-à-tête chair—otherwise known as a conversational—is at the centre of Room for Love, 1990, seen here in a group exhibition The Pool, 1996, at the Centenary Pool by architect James Birrell built in 1959, Spring Hill, Brisbane.

It is with this—the overheard conversations and their manner—that I then began to draw and fill my sketch books that final year before graduating and from which the super 8 film ‘sculpture: a conversation’, 1988, grew.

Gail Hastings, July 2020

Afternoon tea, that’s at four

At four in the afternoon, visitors to plans, 2003, would hear cups rattle on an especially made tea trolly, winding its way up the passageway, as gallery staff kindly prepared to serve tea in keeping with the Reeds tradition at this hour and in this house, as photographed by Albert Tucker in 1945. The photograph is of Sidney Nolan, Sunday Reed and Joy Hester enjoying a cup of tea in the kitchen. It captures a notion of the mutual recognition and exchange of a shared space in art.

Albert Tucker
Arvo Tea: Sidney Nolan, Sunday Reed and Joy Hester  1945
gelatin silver photograph
30.4 x 40.3 cm
Heide Museum of Modern Art
Gift of Barbara Tucker 2001

photo: John Brash © Gail Hastings

Table for teapots, teacups, tea things and biscuits

photo: Richard Stringer © Gail Hastings

In the Encyclopaedia of Straight Lines, 1995, there is a table for ‘teapots, teacups, tea things and biscuits’, as well as tables for ‘recording in the Encyclopaedia the submission time of each straight line’, ‘qualifying the straightness of each straight line’, and ‘grouping the straight lines into shared histories for storage’.

Room for a cup of tea

photo: Richard Stringer © Gail Hastings

The five blue recessed ice-cube blocks set in the Encyclopaedia of Time, 1995, are five open spaces that each correspond with a ‘room for now’ in the floorpan alongside, in which a chair allows one to rest awhile and spend some time. As well as rooms for ‘a deep pond’, ‘a river’, and ‘an ocean’ in place of frozen ice, there is also a room ‘for trusting’, ‘for melting’, and for ‘a cup of tea’.

Table with coffee cups

A space between the red and blue sides in sides: red versus blue, 2009, has tables, chairs and coffee cups, ‘Where an ongoing discussion rages between those who drink coffee all day, on whether it is inevitable or not for red to be on the side that is blue, and for blue to be on the side that is red’.

The other half of the conversation

The two sides of this conversation in Background: material space, 2017, are separated by a gulf of space that is, in figurative painting, recognised as the background. This space, though, is cut into the picture plane. It is a channel of real space we share while standing in front of the split conversation. At the same time, it is also a channel of pictorial space we cannot share. One half is ‘an expected conversation’ while, unexpectedly, the other half it is an ‘actual conversation’.

Divisions between friends

top photo: John Brash © Gail Hastings

In division between friends, 1991, in the Australian Perspecta 1991, the work begins with an image in the exhibition catalogue of a table with five settings for friends where we see a ‘petit four’ awaiting each. In the real space of the exhibition, however, the same table reappears, but with the petit fours now devoured and thought residues of the five friends left on the wrappers that detail how each spent their time while sharing a conversation with each other.

SECRET INTELLIGENCE

Secret Intelligence Agents — spooks and private eyes — are often seen meandering through the concrete passages of a sculptural situation searching for a clue, the sculptuation’s meaning, its purpose.

Secret intelligence can also be an agent at work in our daily lives, collecting the information we see but which we do not notice for various reasons that can include habit, fear, cultural difference, indoctrination, disinterest, indifference or, simply, a lack of time.

A spook or private eye in a sculptuation can be key to opening the artwork’s actual, real, physical space — through connections they create between two- and three-dimensional components.

The following sculptuations are just a few in which Secret Intelligence Officers can be found within the work’s passages.

Encyclopaedia of Observing Art Observations

In secret intelligence: a sculptural situation, 2003, two watercolour encyclopaedias appear on either side of a 20cm corridor of space. This corridor of actual space corresponds with a corridor of space in the sculptural situation between the left and right encyclopaedia pages. The pattern on the green rugs in both rooms is a repeated circular circumference that emanates from a shared centre in the corridor of actual space.

Mission ‘Observe the Observer’ has begun. In the ‘left space’ a secret intelligence agent waits to walk past the target of this mission – the person observing these two floorplans in the ‘corridor of actual space’. While passing, the agent will covertly observe the target and determine whether they regard themselves as a part of this situation. Immediately reaching the ‘right space’ the agent will write a report and dispatch it for collection by a second agent disguised as an art historian.

Movie Directions for Secret Agents, 1994

TO THE MOTION PICTURE DIRECTOR OF THE AUSTRALIA SECRET INTELLIGENCE SERVICE – A REPORT FORM ACTOR: AGENT PURPLE

At time 19:74 precisely, she folded the Governmental document Memorandum of Understanding into her handbag. My surveillance of her remained undetected as she proceeded towards the assigned meeting place without hesitation. When passing St. Leonards Ave at 19:73pm, she looked down the street and waved to somebody. Upon immediately inspecting the street so to ascertain to whom she waved, I discovered that in her view, she waved to ‘somebody’, but in my view, to ‘nobody’. This, dear Director, creates frailty in the plot; an incongruous reality where exists two versions at the same time: hers and mine. I report so to alert you to this lack of Credibility; a lack likely to be scoffed at by the audience.

We, the cast, await, at this moment in the movie, for your corrected version before continuing. It is at present 19:71pm.


~ page 1971 ~

The Big Coverup: white with blue stripe, 2003

Five paintings atop of the stairs of whispers are suspected of containing encoded, top-secret information. Suspiciously, the owners claim the paintings are just primed canvases – depicting nothing – that have been covered up recently due to attracting nuisance crowds of unwarranted sightseers. Your mission is to go undercover and reveal the truth of this situation by ascertaining whether the paintings are, indeed, primed canvases and the cover-up is, just, a cover-up. Go disguised as an art viewer and note all suspicious circumstances – such as other art viewers. And remember, nothing is never nothing.

CIRCULAR SPACE

Different movements between components of a sculptural situation, create different types of space. In the majority of my work to date, the movement has created a circular space.

The components in Replica of an original space: yellow green, 2015, seen in the above video, include a cyclic quadrilateral hanging on a wall and a page from the ‘Encyclopaedia of an original space here, now‘ hanging to its left.

The concrete passage of the encyclopaedia reads:

A sculptural situation re-renders an actual situation through any number of alternating spacial circles or ‘loops’. The quantity, range, frequency and speed of looping spaces within a sculptuation ultimately defines the materiality of the overall circular space these create. The materiality of a circular space can be thick and dense, or nebulous and light. Movement within it can meander, frolic or sprint. It depends. All, though, are in constant movement, never static, since recognition of any one element is by an unending shift through its opposite.

The loops in a sculptuation tend to unify to create a self-determining circular space that delineates the work through its own process. Yet, a sculptuation’s process is separate to the perceptual process we may undergo when we engage with it. There may be, nevertheless, some sort of dance between the work’s process and our own, some sort of rhythmic repeat of sequential movements in unison. As to whether it is a viewer or the sculptuation that leads or follows, it is difficult to say. Perhaps it alternates.

Gail Hastings, 2020

in
SCULPTURAL SITUATIONS
BY
GAIL HASTINGS

Gail Hastings’ Studio

No answer: black, 2018, by Gail Hastings