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Gill Gatfield

Lawn (Greener on the Other Side) II
1.64'H x 3.3'W x 0.4'D

live grass, dormant grass, canvas, pine Further developing Gatfield’s first grass painting, exhibited at the Waikato Museum National Contemporary Art Awards 2006, Lawn (Greener on the Other Side) II 2007 positions two pieces of turf side-by-side: a dormant NZ couch grass and a verdant sward from British stock. A cyclical work, the two sides exchange position as one recedes and the other flourishes - under the care and attention of collector and curator. Here, the ready-made is in constant reproduction and endless cycles of growth and dormancy, becoming a 'being-made'. As a geometric abstraction, a genre said to be cool and distanced, the lawn work develops a new organic abstraction: wet, warm and needy. It carves a direct relationship between artwork, gallery, environment, curator and collector. Like the proverb: ‘The grass is greener on the other side’, the work contains insecurity and unknowns, contesting borders and boundaries. Young Sun Han, Curator: ‘If, according to the gastronomist, “you are what you eat”, for the collector, you are what you own. Gatfield’s Grass Works ups the ante on this statement; the works’ appearance reflects the levels of devotion provided by the caretaker. As the turf accumulates pests and unkempt tendrils, the artwork must be manicured to stay vibrant. A flowing rhythm is built into the work, its ephemerality running parallel to the lifespan of its owner. It at once refuses stability but actively resists decay. This is another dialectical situation that questions the lifespan of works and the cord binding an object to its keeper, grounded in a human compulsion to preserve. Gatfield’s grass, brought into internal spaces, directly references the taming of nature and ownership of land - a parallel that can be drawn to the ownership of art. Circles performing circles, Gatfield’s artwork navigates an amorphous plane of existing and subsisting, questioning our want for immortality and proposing a solution to death. The Duchampian idea of ready-mades refers to the construction of context and framing found materials into the realm of art. Gill Gatfield calls her process of harnessing the inherent properties of materials a “being-made.” The focus here is not so much on re-contextualising, but rather on subverting expected behaviours by shifting objects in pivotal ways, then allowing their properties to function normally (mirrors sans centres hung at eye-level; grass sewn onto a support then allowed to grow as if in nature). “Being-made” truly occurs as the objects are situated and allowed to perform over and over and over, ad infinitum.' (essay published in Gatfield: Being-Made, 2007)