Exhibiting side by side for the first time, Sydney-based artists Hayley Megan French and Nuha Saad grace our front exhibition space with a presentation of new paintings and sculptures where the colours, shapes and forms of Australian suburbia are enlivened. Shifting between abstraction and representation the flat compositions and sculptural forms featured in the exhibition highlight the architectural and ornamental elements of our surroundings, beyond the functional, to reflect on notions of locality, community and home.
Hayley Megan French, Suburban Line Paintings
For the past 4 years my partner and I have been in planning to build a home in a new neighbourhood (new to us, that is). This process has changed the way I see the world around me. I began noticing more details. Details of homes, gardens, habits. Details of architecture, urban planning, suburban economies. Details of past, present, future.
They are all small details. Each with the potential to lead to a greater understanding of where and how I live. Patterns of footpaths, driveways, and lawns. Patterns of fences, verges, and roads.
These paintings home in on these details and their significance. They are a form of meditation on what it is that creates our sense of home and neighbourhood. They are part of a larger project creating a portrait of the suburbs I live and work in. It is a growing body of work that engages in a conversation about what suburbia means in the Australian imagination. At the centre of this conversation is home.
When making this work, I think often of this text by D. J. Waldie in his book Holy Land; A Suburban Memoir:
“When I stand at the end of my block, I see a pattern of sidewalk, driveway, and lawn that aspires to be no more than harmless. That’s important, because we live in a time of great harm to the ordinary parts of our lives, and I wish that I had acquired more of the resistance my neighbourhood offers.”
I have always been interested in the ornamental and the architectural and I see my practice as a type of archaeology of the suburbs, as I seek to uncover and highlight the decorative elements of our slowly disappearing suburban architecture. These elements through their design and shape come with a pre-formed history, which I am drawn to explore. Usually added to domestic interiors for decorative effect, through my practice I question whether decoration is simply an addition or an integral part of our built environment.
These ornamental forms are often placed alongside the hard geometries of minimalism, revealing both my western art training and an eastern sensibility, and demonstrate my feeling of being in-between these different cultural experiences.
Colour is also used here, to both describe and de-stabilise the forms, to draw the viewer in to delight and intrigue them. Colour is the site where the geometry of minimalism and the ornamental meet and intersect, both formally and intuitively, and where a balance is achieved.
Installation images by Docqment