Exhibition Details

The Collector's Daughter: altars for uncertain times

Beth Norling

Sat 10 Oct -

Sat 05 Dec

East Gallery
Image: Beth Norling, 'Retablo of the hungry ghost' Digital image

First fire, then flood, now the virus, we have been forced into a relationship with our possessions and to reassess the values that underlie their collection. What do we choose to keep, and keep safe, and what needs to be jettisoned?

As an artist, I use the power of objects to transport the viewer through history, memory, and emotion. I'm fascinated by how groups of objects gather power in numbers or open portals to a spiritual experience. For this reason, I collect stuff to make stuff. And yet, I am truly ambivalent about collections and collecting, my possession’s delight, and trouble me. I alternately treasure my clutter and resent it. I love the frivolity of the purely decorative object, but I also find it disturbing. 

In my art practice, I choose materials of little or no value and transform them into something else: soap into scrimshaw, plasticine into lace. I manipulate images and objects in-order to corrupt value and shift function. My work, while quietly and lovingly subversive, deliberately performs a task, it asks why do we value what we value…what is something truly worth? Are we called to protect what we hold dear? Or are we merely distracted by our collections and need to surrender them to find greater meaning?

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