The articulate object – a kind of homecoming
Published on 04 May 2016
It has been a homecoming on many levels for artist Sam Lloyd whose exhibition, The articulate object, is currently on display at Mildura Arts Centre.
Sam - then known as Simon - grew up in Mildura between 1961 and 1973, attended Mildura High School, left to go to university and lost all connection with the town when his parents retired to Melbourne. After years of occasional visits, he’s been back in town five times in the past year, primarily to the Mildura Arts Centre – and for good reason: Sam rates the gallery as the inspiration for a creative career spanning four decades.
“I used to ride my bike down Deakin Avenue on weekends, with an old roll film camera my father gave me, to photograph the artworks that would appear like magic on the gallery lawns (in the renowned sculpture triennials). In the days before the Internet, this was exposure to world-class art in my own backyard: an amazing and unique experience for a young boy in a country town.”
Walking into Sam’s exhibition at MAC, there is – hopes the artist – just a little of that surprise and delight that he felt in confronting contemporary art for the first time all those years ago. Shards of glass are photographically transfixed in mid air; gears, pipes and wheels emerge from a plinth in the middle of the floor; a rusted object hangs from the roof, casting a shadow on the gallery wall.
“I hope there is a bit of fun in this exhibition, a bit of magic and surprise. At the same time, the works are very carefully constructed. I aim for something beyond the ordinary, to reveal the beauty in the everyday.”
Sam’s thoughts are echoed in a wall text by his friend, professor of art at Champlain College in the United States, Tommy Barlow: “every time I see one of Sam Lloyd’s works, something changes inside. Forcing us to slow down, the work gently admonishes us to pay attention to the smallest, least significant of things.”
“I am humbled to have this exhibition in Mildura Arts Centre’s Diamond Jubilee year” says Sam who, like the gallery, turns 60 this year. “For me it’s more than just a showing of my work. I came back to Mildura several times to take new photographs for the exhibition. About half of the work was made especially for this show. I also collected objects from a local museum to create an installation in the gallery space.”
Bob Twyford of the Vintage Farm Machinery Museum in Red Cliffs is an unlikely collaborator in the exhibition. Sam explains: “Bob is also an artist in his own way; when I spoke to him about displaying some of his machine parts in a gallery he immediately understood what I was trying to do. He said to me, ‘all of these objects have a story to tell’. That’s exactly what I think, too.”
In a final twist in this re-connection story, while preparing the exhibition Sam learnt that a former High School classmate is organising a reunion for later this year. Some of the returnees turned up for a pre-meet at the opening of Sam’s show. Says Sam: “It’s nice to reconnect with old friends. And this gallery - it is an old friend, too.”
The exhibition is on now until Sunday 22 May 2016.
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