Collection will arouse curiosity

Browsing Fiona West’s works at the new Marvellous and Magical exhibition at Logan Art Gallery you could be forgiven for thinking that you have jumped down a rabbit hole into a world of eclectic and surreal reflections of nostalgia and childhood memories.

The exhibition is indeed a collection of ‘marvellous and magical’ works created from objects discovered in op shops, others found at home and online or that have been recycled. West is always on the look-out for things that she can transform into something else. For this exhibition, that includes a bicycle wheel and other bicycle parts, a baking tray turned into a little screen, a set of nesting tables that form the structure of a sculpture, and even a 19th century pigeon carrier.

“I didn’t actually go looking for a pigeon cage, but I did see it and thought gosh that’s got potential,” she said about her quirky find.

West’s works are not only a treasure trove of found objects, they are a curious collection of moving parts as well, such as the baking tin that turns and spins like an old gramophone in a work called Lullaby. They are also a collage of objects, parts, photographs, videos, projections, paper cut-outs and more.

“Once I take the objects apart, the parts start transforming into something else. They start telling their own little story –– they seem to get a whole life of their own. For example, little parts of bicycles are seen in photographs as well as in one of the little sculptures,” West said.

While there are little videos and projections in some of the sculptures creating moving images that, in some ways hark back to the history of early animation, the works are very hand-crafted giving the whole collection a very tactile West admits she’s been a fossicker from an early age.

“Growing up I always found things, scratching around and digging in cupboards, finding things with different materials and different textures. I have always found it hard to stick to just drawing or just painting. I was always assembling things with seeds or leaves or sticks or something and I was always compiling things.

“Very early on I found things like paper have the ability to ‘talk’ like a little character. I see animation in things,” she said.

There’s a lot of playfulness in her work and there’s a sense of nostalgia drawn from her own childhood memories in pieces such as the music boxes and even the bicycle parts.

“You are drawn to certain objects because of your memories and your own personal experiences. For example, a lot of us have grown up riding bikes and seeing those pieces relates to your sense of fun and your childhood memories and how we respond to that in the present,” West said.

Pieces range in size from small photographs to the largest piece which is almost two metres high. There will be about 20 pieces in the exhibition, and each one has taken time from a few weeks to up to a year to complete.

West hopes viewers will enjoy being “part of the artwork”.

“I experiment quite a lot and I hope the viewers will enjoy the curiousness of it and be engaged by it in a different way from just going around and looking at one work to the next, that they can take part in working out what’s happening and seeing things differently, perhaps asking themselves how has that been created and how was that done.”

It might even invoke childhood memories of their own.

“I’m hoping that each work is accessible, from children through to adults. I hope that children can also look at these works and relate to them in their own way. Hopefully, it’s just entertaining and they can just pick out something that resonates or provides meaning for them, which would be great.

“I’m sure other people will pick up things through the works that I haven’t thought of as well from their own experience.”

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