21 June 2014

Greer Honeywill at QUT’s Wood exhibition

Words: Saskia Edwards
Images: Jonathan Rae

Street after street, the same house after the same house. Modern society has given life to a world of homogenous products with absolute, manufactured predictability. Nothing typifies this more than the housing estate; as if each house came in the same packaging.

Greer Honeywill’s the housing estate is not to scale #2 captures this monotonous zeitgeist. The work seems to look down from an aerial view over an estate and its super fractal precision.

Greer explains: “So that little piece, the optimism is, ‘It’s a housing estate, wow!’ Really good position, nice little houses.

“It’s not exactly to scale, but it’s a little bit like you’re buying off the plan, apartments in buildings, before they see it.

“Sometimes it’s extremely hard for people to visualise even in two dimensions, but visualise in three dimension.

“And so they’re often quite disappointed with what they end up with, because they imagined something completely different.”

The work is part of an exhibition at QUT Art Museum entitled Wood: Art Design Architecture. It aims to explore wood as medium in contemporary Australian art. The works range from wooden surfboards, luminous hollow tree trunks and artisanal furniture.

But permeating the whole exhibition was the wide spectrum of timber’s natural colours.

Greer’s piece varied in colour through raw wooden tones.

“I decided I wanted to have like a painter, a palate of colours, so I went off to the wood yard and spent a long time in the sample room.

“And eventually came out with three timbers, Huon pine, which is pale, American cherry wood and American redwood.

“So if you like, that was light medium and dark.

“So there was three distinct tones, which you actually see in that work.”

Wood is imbedded with symbolism: nature, progress, stability. It’s separated from its origin – trees – to represent something that is created. And in that sense wood is inherently about production. However, wood has endured centuries of use because of its beauty.

For Greer, the mere aesthetics of the wood are what attracts her to the medium.

“When you cut wood and you do not surface it, it is for me, unspeakably beautiful.

“So I don’t finish any of my works, they are raw, so that they can change over time.

“And I say that if a work sat in a room over time, it will change in response to the air that we breathe and the air we exhale, everything affects the timber.

“But the change is so slow that it’s kind of a metaphor for life and death.”


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