05/11/22 — 26/11/22
05/11/22 — 26/11/22
Remaking works created at an earlier time and reimagining them within entirely new contexts, is an indication of true inventiveness; that inscrutable desire born of unrelenting attentiveness to the process of making art. Such is the story of an encrusted tile Peter Hawkesby made in 1999, overlooked at the time and sequestered, forgotten in a cardboard carton, the contents of which were revealed some 20 years later when the artist relocated from Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland to Ōtepoti Dunedin. Hawkesby’s tile provides the prima facie case for Bone Thrones, his latest ensemble of ceramic works.
In its original iteration, the tile was a bed for a bevy of slumbering ‘ticks’ — the ‘tick’ being the most enduring motif in this artist’s creative enterprise. In the current evocation, the ticks feel spent, reclined, almost cadaverous. Hawkesby’s title, Bone Thrones suggests portentousness, but his throne is a cipher for celebration, a ritualised occasion for aesthetic conviviality. The artist has simply flipped the bed, relinquishing lying down in favour of standing upright. The structural apparatus needed to maintain this vertical orientation is as endowed with ornamental traits and decorative attributes as the embedded ticks.
Like anagrams to be descrambled and re-conjugated, these ‘thrones’ are unacculturated objects, corporeal totems laced with social pathologies and psychological desire. A muscle memory is being exercised, but the specific contents are rendered vague. These objects are monuments to the texture of memory but make no claims to its reliability — their ‘dust to dust’ religiosity, a form of indemnity against loss.
Hawkesby’s thrones often demanded a second storey, a coif, or crest, crowning what he euphemistically refers to as ‘billboards’ for the bones. The artist deploys his aesthetic arsenal ambidextrously. His two-faced edifices cast doubt on simple designations of front and back. The eye is denied a central focus and displaced via a sophisticated dishevelment. Hawkesby is the master of bricolage. His wilful capriciousness and knowing delinquency disturbs our derived notions of sculptural elegance and the art of craft.
Tender Brick: The Material Epiphanies of Peter Hawkesby at CoCA Toi Moroki