Hay’s great feat of clay

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Street Watch - Tanya MacNaughton

IT has been two and a half years of prob­lem- solv­ing but artist Gra­ham Hay is fi­nally ready to dis­play his lat­est work, TheKiss, at this year’s Sculp­ture by the Sea, Cottes­loe.

The two 2m-high tow­ers are made from thou­sands of ce­ramic smartphones and were in­spired by Hay’s re­search into clay cu­nei­form tablets of the Mid­dle East.

The clay arte­facts date back 3500 to 4000 years and, much like to­day’s iPhone, were a form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion to record notes, gos­sip, memos, recipes, leg­ends, lit­er­ary works, prayers, po­ems and of­fi­cial doc­u­ments.

“It’s some­thing we for­got but this smart­phone tech­nol­ogy is the same sort of size, just a bit more com­pli­cated than mud out of the ground,” Hay said at his West Perth stu­dio.

To sug­gest a con­ver­sa­tion in the sculp­ture, the artist de­cided to in­clude di­ag­o­nally po­si­tioned faces onto the grow­ing pil­lars of clay phones and over­came is­sues with weight, bal­ance and fir­ing in the kiln.

So­lu­tions in­cluded thread­ing the phones onto 10mm marine­grade, stain­less-steel rods and us­ing wash­ers to sep­a­rate each iPhone.

“We have a lot of fail­ures in ce­ram­ics,” Hay, who has a Bach­e­lor of Arts from ECU with honours de­gree from Curtin Uni­ver­sity, said.

“With paint­ing, you just paint over it, but we make things and then we fire it and ev­ery­thing could just go wrong. It’s seat of your pants stuff.”

Hay said although many sculp­tures were lit­eral and un­der­stood right away, The Kiss needed to be seen from all sides to fully un­der­stand.

“I have con­fi­dence in the au­di­ence’s abil­ity to un­wrap the puz­zle,” he said.

“I love sculp­ture be­cause it’s real in the sense that you’re not cre­at­ing an illusion. Th­ese are real ob­jects and you’re in­ter­act­ing with them as real things.

“Peo­ple spend so much time in­ter­act­ing with the world on a screen rather than go­ing out.”

Sculp­ture by the Sea, Cottes­loe runs from March 6 to 23.

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