Hip Hip Decay
Australian Design Centre plays a critical role in celebrating the work of Australian artists who embrace the highest degree of craftsmanship and who continually explore material, process and ideas to advance contemporary craft and design practice.
Object Space is a window gallery located in the window of the ADC Offices on William Street in Darlinghurst. The exhibition space has direct street frontage, is accessible to view 24 hours a day and is lit for viewing at night.
On display 11 April - 26 May 2019 is the exhibition Hip Hip Decay by artist Suzanne McRae.
Suzanne McRae's work is immersed in sentimentality and the haunting nature of memory. These once cherished creatures, inhabitants of the past, live on today.
Suzanne’s creatures are the anthropomorphic bridge between human and animal, the past and present, and truth or dream. A melancholic yet enticing longing for ornaments from past generations. They may seem strange and awkward now, but they have miraculously outlived their owners. The stained and moth-eaten fabrics, cracks and threads, shining eyes, all conglomerate to remind us of great grandparents’ Victorian Era dining rooms now disintegrated.
With a degree in Ceramics (BA Vis Arts University of Ballarat 1996) and many years as a costumier and corset maker (ASYLUM 7) Suzanne McRae’s skills have come together to combine clay and textiles.
Exhibitions include the University of Ballarat Alumni Artists Group Exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ballarat, Fabulous Maude at The Lost Ones Gallery and Dogs in Art at The Backspace Gallery. With a constant update of pieces in ten stockists across Australia, along with feature articles in Junkies Magazine, The Ballarat Courier and Where Women Create Magazine, Suzanne McRae/Hip Hip Decay artworks have gained a steady and enthusiastic following. Many pieces have also found their homes in international personal collections.
Suzanne McRae in Conversation
In the lead up to her exhibition in Object Space we asked Suzanne some questions about her unique works.
ADC: Are your creatures a product of your dreams, imagination or childhood memory?
Suzanne McRae: My creatures are a product of historic research, imagination and general antique objects influence. I like to use past eras for reference points, and apply my own approach to an object that might have existed then. They are not in any way for historical accuracy or any form of re-enactment. They are a combination of materials at hand, so Victorian might meet Deco might meet 1970. Mongolia might meet Paris might meet Ballarat.
ADC: Where do you find your material?
Suzanne McRae: I am a junk shop/market/op shop/antique stall addict. If there is an old house being demolished I will be in the skip out the front saving shreds of wallpaper and chandeliers or quizzing the workmen on anything found in the walls. People often leave bags of old tablecloths, beads and doilies at my front door. I don't know who brings it all.... they are happy to just pass it on. Often the pieces are too beautiful or old to cut up though, so I become the next caretaker. Sometimes people give me their hair if it's keep-worthy. Sometimes I grab the dog and snip a little bit of fur if I need a moustache for a rabbit.
ADC: How do people react to your work?
Suzanne McRae: There is a classic love or recoil response. The eyes divide people, either they don't like the feeling of being looked at and find the pieces 'freaky', or they adore them and want to adopt them all. It's quite clear cut, one or the other. Mostly the characters seem to have a slightly haunting and ambiguous origin, which I find allows people to make a personal connection through their own memories, thoughts and preferences. By not outlining a story, people are free to make their own responses, and I think that is a more genuine connection than forcing my own made up one on them. Give people some space to have their own thoughts.
ADC: Do children react differently to adults?
Suzanne McRae: Children more often find them scary and difficult to deal with. Sometimes they feed off adults knee-jerk reactions, sometimes they are just sensitive to the expressions not being particularly friendly. Children often want them taken out of the room for sleeping, or turned to the wall.
Image (top): Suzanne McRae. Photo: Courtesy of the artist.
Image (bottom): Antebellum (detail). Photo: Courtesy of the artist