Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thoughts on Skin: an imperfect coat

Skin, it is that thin line that separates inside from out. Even perhaps, a separation from what is myself from what is not. The functions and processes going on beneath our skin are hidden from view, and rarely thought about day to day. Despite this, the smooth functioning of those organs protected within are what enable us to be. In fact, it is not until we are faced with illness that we become acutely aware of the vulnerability of what's hidden beneath this protective membrane.

Installation view, Skin: an imperfect coat, Naomi Hunter.
Image via The Oats Factory.

Last Friday night I went to the opening of Perth based glass artist, Naomi Hunter's exhibition Skin: an imperfect coat at The Oats Factory. Hunter combines glass, steel, installation and film to form a three part exhibition. In the front part of the gallery is an installation which brings to my mind the clinical examination of the body - under bright light vessels spill red droplets like blood onto stainless steel surfaces, glass organ-like forms sit beneath specimen containers, and some seem to teeter dangerously close to the edge emphasising their vulnerability. This acts for me, like a manifestation of the loss of control felt when faced with illness. When we place our trust in medicine and submit to procedures that can be frightening and humiliating. Yet, like the body and all its imperfection these glass forms Hunter has created are intriguingly beautiful.

Sam (detail), Naomi Hunter, glass, steel and light.
Image via The Oats Factory.

The second part of the gallery is like a transition into an earlier stage of life. It contains larger sculptural works in a darkened space which have an ethereal quality to them. These works incorporate perforated steel with glass ovum-like centers. The glass, a membrane protecting the light emanating from within.
In the third part we step back another stage. An up close moving image of glass while Hunter works with it is projected onto the wall. Like promordium this liquid is evolving into form, ever changing and ever in process.
Skin: an imperfect coat runs until the 27th November at The Oats Factory, 69 Oats Street, Carlisle WA, Wed – Sun 12 - 5pm.


  1. Her glasswork looks incredible....I don't know her stuff. Thanks for these photos and the write-up!

    I recently went to this Paula Hayes exhibit of terrariums--little and enormous contained worlds. Glass is good at that.

  2. Wow, thanks for the link to Paula Hayes' work, Hannah!