Artist Mikala Dwyer installs her exhibition ‘A shape of thought’


I’m Mikala Dwyer, and I’m
going to give you a little tour of the studio, the mess,
chaos before the show. All these bits and pieces will hopefully come together as a single work, which is called Divisions
and Subtractions. You know, it’s a kind
of community of objects, argumentative, clashing,
some get on, some don’t. Triangles, squares, circles, rectangles, there’s something kind of very
rigid about them, in a way. They’re sort of in organising principles that seem to structure
the way we build things, the way we think, the way we behave, the way we organise, you know, societies. And I’m always curious as to
where those shapes originate, you know, how they just, shapes of our kind of
logical, our consciousness. Is that the way, you
know, our thinking is, or is it something that’s been imposed from some other source? Geometry plays such a
huge part in shaping us, and I was really bad at maths, very dyslexic with maths at school, and becoming an artist is a
great way to liberate yourself. You know, now I can play with mathematics. – Yes. In my own way, on my on terms, and I can make up my own shapes. Suddenly, these very standard geometries become something other. – Mikala, something else I find very noticeable about this exhibition, and this comes back to your
sort of pushing against systems, is your reluctance to accept gravity. (laughs) – Gravity is such a gorgeous material. Invisible but so defining of everything. With Silvering, it’s like it’s a big massive sculptural
form, but it’s, you know, ideally it should float
around the museum free. For me, there’s that time to defy gravity as much being beholden to gravity. You can’t help but think
about gravity even more when it’s being defied, in a sense, so it’s still very much written
in a sculptural tradition, I think. – [Wayne] Of course, Divisions
and Subtractions is a circle, deliberately a circle, and
you’ve used these circles in a number of works to bring together these disparate objects. What does the circular form do? – For me, the circle is
like a, it’s a motif, it’s like a holding pattern,
a shape that can hold, you know, random or rambling,
more rambling, thinking. – I love that idea because
it does give a form to some of your most
experimental practise. I find it a very honest work
because it does reflect, I mean, we may open our mouths and speak in logical sequential
sentences from time to time, but there’s a heck of a lot of ideas floating around the head in any one mind- – Yes! – That are jostling for attention before our mind sorts them
out and they come out. And one of the joys in that
work is you get the ideas before they’re articulated in a sentence. – Yes, very private ones. (laughs) – I mean, I think the other
thing is that nothing is, it happens with a lot
of artists, you know, you can’t help censoring
yourself, tidying things up, but it’s always the things that I’m about to chuck in the bin that I feel like are the things that are potentially more
honest, or more interesting. – Behind us, we have a mobile
called, A Weight of Shape, and it has these wonderful organic shapes, which you’ve wrestled from the
materials you’ve worked with. Tell me a little bit about this piece. – They begin with a flat, rectangular sheet of plastic, and then it’s kind of like
my own geological formation where I wrestle it with heat
and pressure and tension, and on the other hand, I’m
actually just sculpting nothing. I’m sculpting air, you know,
like I’m just enclosing a void, or an empty space or some air. – So, air and light, as well. – Yeah, it’s sort of
exoskeletons for nothing. They’re a little bit like
The Emperor’s New Clothes, you know, they’re huge, you know, space-sucking objects, but somehow your eyes, I
think, get pulled through them, and I think you somehow inhabit them, too, I think with the scale, the
simple means of the space of the interior of the object. I really think the paintings are actually quite sculpturally built. Hard-edge painting, it’s a funny
thing, it’s like taping off, there’s a sequence to
what colours to paint, and then there’s sort of built
up of these funny geometries, which are, really easily
lend themself to kind of, occult or sacred geometries. So, I think I’m not so
much trying to make symbols as to understand symbols, and you know, it’s very hard to make a new
symbol, virtually impossible. There are things that accrue over such of a millennia and over, you know, they’re sort of
such huge culturally agreed shapes or forms or objects. They’re so loaded and they’re
so powerful, and they’re just, you can’t just come up with one, they just don’t happen like that. They’re really magical kind of things. I think a lot of my works have come out of this thing of
building cubby houses. – Yeah. – And I think they’re
cubby houses like a studio, it’s like a psychic
fortress that you can be, I don’t know, free. A momentary, temporary kind of shelter for some sort of freedom. – And it breaks down those
normal spatial relationships in the gallery where there’s
an object here and you’re here. You’re totally immersed, you’re enmeshed. The object is almost part of you, and you’re part of it as you
walk around it and through it. I think what your work often does is take apart accepted
and known logics of forms, and you find other voices
within these objects. – If you take the materialised version of form or shapes or objects or cities or architectures, if you take it back and
back and back and back, and try to get to the, kind of, imagination that’s
underpinning those things, or the impulses that have
created those shapes, can you actually find a malleable point to kind of unravel them
and do something different? Reimagine them in other shapes and forms.

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