Be startled, amazed, awed, moved or just plain gob-smacked. This is an extra-ordinary exhibition. Viewing twelve pieces of Ron Mueck’s work at one time leaves a lasting impact.
The pieces are either over sized or under sized. For example there is the ‘Old Woman in Bed’.
A perfect representation of an old lady asleep – a tiny form curled up under a blanket. It is poignant and touching at the first glance. Then when you stand and look at it for longer it becomes quite heart breaking in all it says about ageing. This is my favourite piece in the exhibition.
Most of the sculptures in the exhibition are of naked figures but one of the few clothed is ‘ Two women’
Even the details of the clothes add to the overall effect. Take a look at the hem on the brown coat. The wrinkles and expressions on their faces draw you in. You want to hear what they are gossiping about.
You enter the exhibition and meet Dead Dad. A small naked figure of an old man with his eyes closed. An endearing look at death- it is peaceful. The first real shock is ‘ The Girl’, one of the super sized pieces; a baby girl immediately after birth complete with the umbilical cord and streaks of blood.
I read on the internet that Mueck was inspired to make her so large because he had recently had a new baby and the baby took on this huge presence in the house.
This information was not supplied by the NGV. No information in given on the background to the sculptures. The idea being, I imagine, that you take from each piece what you can or what you need to. Sometimes this lack of information doesn’t matter because the subject immediately speaks to us as with the old ladies. But I couldn’t get anything from a naked girl carrying a bundle of sticks.
I believe the curator would have greatly added to our appreciation by giving some background notes to each piece.
The information that is supplied is a list of materials used to make the sculpture, for example ‘Old Woman in Bed’ was made from resin, fibreglass, silicone, polyurethane, synthetic hair, cotton, polyester. These materials with slight variations were used for all of them.
The details on the sculptures are extraordinary – every pore, each hair, veins, blood, wrinkles – even to the wrinkles on the baby’s feet and the legs hairs on the ‘Wild Man’, everyone one of which appears to have been put in individually.
Go to the exhibition if you get a chance. It is fascinating but my suggestion is to read up on Ron Mueck and get some background on his work before you go.
After you have seen the exhibition the obvious question is how does he make them. This article by Brian Kennedy, who visited Mueck’s studio in London, describes the process.
National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is at 180 St Kilda Road, just across the Yarra River from Federation Square
The exhibition runs from 22nd January to 18th of April 2010 in Melbourne.
The gallery is open every day from 10.00am to 5.00pm except for Tuesday when it is CLOSED
Adult $15.00 Concession $12.00
It opens at the Queensland Art Gallery on 8th May to 8th August 2010