01 August 2015 - 29 August 2015

Elizabeth Gower, Matrix


Elizabeth Gower's new series of works, Cycles and Matrix, are composed from an extensive collection of multiple segments of printed papers retrieved from domestic and urban environments around studio locations.

The Cycles series are circular collages on the lids of small cardboard cartons and the Matrix series are complex geometries of inlayed paper segments. The scale of the works is indicative of the necessity for portability, as they were made ‘in transit' during the artist's recent studio residencies at Point[B], New York and Laughing Waters, Eltham, and at three temporary studios in Rome, Berlin and Collingwood.

Collecting, collating and cataloguing ephemera from daily life is a methodology Elizabeth Gower established early in her practice, and her studio functions as a point of interruption in the ‘life' cycle of the papers. This immediate tactile connection with the material excesses and detritus of contemporary consumer culture informs the theoretical framework and conceptual understanding of her practice, and associates her work with ideas of recovery and re-purpose, sustainable practice and thrift strategies that critique excesses of mass production and the notion of impermanence.

The quantity, availability and multiplicity of the mass-produced printed-papers and ‘readymade' circular cartons mediate the direction and form of the Cycles works by simultaneously allowing spontaneity and imposing limitation. The Cycles series is an extension of two large-scale provisional installations 150 Rotations, Melbourne Now, National Gallery of Victoria, and 356 Rotations, AC Institute in New York, which also re-purposed and aestheticised multiple paper units into hundreds of circular motifs.

In the Matrix works the repetition of elements also enables the reconfiguration of identical motifs into complex symmetries and geometric structures, which aestheticises the waste material. However, the traces of text and imagery create ‘imperfections' in the symmetry, which runs counter to the flawless duplication of mass production. Inlaying repetitive burnished and matt paper fragments references the techniques of tiling and mosaic, which differentiates the methodology of the Matrix works from the usual over-laying collage process.

Re-evaluating and aestheticising ephemera, critiques the ‘systems of value' and precarious temporality of consumer culture, of which it is evidence. The inherent familiarity and transience of the residual material, is archived through the process of collage, remains embedded in the work and resonates with Baudelaire's notion of finding ‘beauty in the ruin'.

Gower has held over 30 individual exhibitions throughout Australia and overseas, including shows at Cité Internationale des Arts Gallery, Paris, 2007; Arthouse, London, 1997; and Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 1991. Her most recent solo exhibitions include 365 Rotations, AC Institute, New York, 2014; Amor Infiniti, AC Institute, New York, 2009; and Genera series, Longwood University, Virginia, 2009; Urban Artefacts, University Gallery, Sharjah 2007. Gower has participated in many major group exhibitions; Melbourne Now, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2014; Collage: The Heide Collection, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, 2013; Baker's Dozen, UTS Gallery, Sydney, 2012; Black elastic, two umbrellas, a mint leaf and wheels, Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne, 2011; Instructions for Initial Conditions, Drift Station & Parallax Space, Nebraska, 2010; Extreme Beauty: Approaches to the Real, Y3K, Melbourne, 2010; Material Afterlife, Urban Institute of Contemporary Art, Michigan, 2009; Cubism and Australian Art, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, 2009; Mesh, The Art Gallery, National Institute of Education, Nanyan University, Singapore 2003; Fieldwork: Australian Art 1968-2002, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2002; Clemenger Art Award, Heide Museum of Modern Art, 1999; Australian Perspecta Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 1997; and Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1985; and 1981; Isolaustralia, Gallery Lillo, Italy, 1984; and European Dialogue, 3rd Biennale of Sydney; Art Gallery of New South Wales 1979.


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Artwork from exhibition by Elizabeth Gower,