Carlier Makigawa,

12 March - 6 April, 2019


What does it take to make new work? Really new work? Courage of course, and some kind of trigger. A journey, a risk, unrest. Perhaps the patience to wait until circumstances are right, and the experience to know that only then the starting point appears, opening a labyrinth of surprise. That surge of recognition as the path unfolds and then it is as though the work makes itself, and one simply observes and facilitates this progression.

In 1991 Jenny Zimmer wrote, reflecting then on over a decade of Carlier's practice, "Makigawa belongs to an electronically attuned, multimedia, post-modern technological, theoretically complex age. She is free to span both backwards and forwards..."[1] Carlier's practice now spans four decades and for this very new work she has reached far back in time to take an ancient technique and recreate it in this very moment and make it her own, a gesture thrilling to watch. In 2003 Ted Snell wrote "The work in this show is an affirmation of an artist pushing at the boundaries of her own practice and in the process finding new confidence to develop ideas and forms that carry meaning that is both highly personal and concurrently accessible to a wider audience." [2] This remarkable Australian artist reveals for her pleasure and ours the brilliant flexibility of the creative mind on its mysterious journey once the constellation of beginnings is right. This new work also reveals pushing the boundaries as a strategy of this artist's practice, traveling to the unknown and returning full of the rich nourishment of inspiration.

We are familiar with the iconic images of Carlier's jewellery, the theatrical balance between her constructions and the body in a dialogue of reciprocal definition. Judith O'Callaghan described this as "one of the most consistent features of Makigawa's work... an insistence on formal definition... a balance between frame and content." [3] In these new pieces the works have become flexible frames for the figure in motion, no longer poised balance but fluid play between the human form and shifting shapes. Previous works with their structural tenacity, frames delineated and vibrating with exactitude have now collapsed. There is still structure, but it is a loosened and flowing system. Closer investigation reveals pockets and seams of colour in the mesh, along with fragments of former constructions. We find a crucial link in logic to a lifelong interest in precision in the names of the works, "709", "491" indicating the exact number of rings in the piece, all coiled by hand, carefully counted, linked and no stitch slipped. Though the technique is old, the material language is contemporary, and one that Carlier is fluent in: monel, niobium, silver, paint, materials chosen for their specific qualities in providing the best possible technical solution.

This is a brilliant shift in Carlier Makigawa's work, away from what Anne Brennan wrote of then as a "focus on frameworks themselves, allowing the beautiful precision of the wire to articulate three dimensional spatial drawings on the body." [4] Those wires have rolled and coiled and become links and structure has become this intricate, sinuous mesh, with its roots in armour and protection, traded as a valuable along the ancient silk road, far back in time. Hints of this history can be found in mysterious, shimmering blues snuggling a variety of friendly greys, quiet strong bonds between colours that make the mesh look old and new. Visually these works span time and acknowledge an interest in treasuring what we have learned to make. Most importantly our impulse is to touch them. Collapsing like water, flowing over the human form, a delirious visual and tactile stream of enjoyment for Carlier and for us all.

Helen Britton, 2019
Adjunct Professor at RMIT

[1] Jenny Zimmer, 'Carlier Makigawa: Studies in Balance an Motion', 1991
[2] Ted Snell, 'Carlier Makigawa: Catch The Moment', 2003
[3] Judith O'Callaghan, 'Carlier Makigawa: The Flower and The Flame', 1996
[4] Anne Brennan, 'Hybrid', 2005

'775', '667', '96', '668', 2019, monel, silver, niobium

Work from Linked

575, 992 by Linked 575, 992, 2019, monel, silver, niobium
785, 589 by Linked 785, 589, 2019, silver, niobium
550, 785 by Linked 550, 785, 2019, monel, silver, niobium
96, 723 by Linked 96, 723, 2019, monel, silver, niobium
673, 667 by Linked 673, 667, 2019, monel, silver, niobium
891, 36 by Linked 891, 36, 2019, monel, silver, niobium, paint
491, 30 by Linked 491, 30, 2019, monel, silver, niobium
252, 60 by Linked 252, 60, 2019, silver
348, 288 by Linked 348, 288, 2019, monel, niobium
232, 275 by Linked 232, 275, 2019, monel, niobium
550, 785 by Linked 550, 785, 2019, monel, niobium

Artists involved