Recent Work 2006
July 13 - August 20, 2006
I have watched Andrew Drummond’s work for more than twenty five years. I think the recent Devices replicate the ritual actions at the core of his early performance work. They translate notions of energy, repetition and the shaman (within both body and land), into a new material terrain of brass, glass and coal. The fundamental concerns are the same. Systems are fragile and only slowly evolving. There is an insistence upon observation and an acknowledgment of vulnerability – or what we might call, the scrutiny of care.
Through the movement of beautiful surfaces, we are brought gently to the understanding that everything is always still moving.
Reciprocating Device, Drawing is like an arm. Sometimes its movement is halting, and sometimes it is vulnerable in its pirouette, as tension is gathered and released within the deliberate sweep of each pendulous arc. But it is persistent. Fresh line is inscribed in the coal dust with each muscular swing.
I noted that many registered Device for Absorption as being static upon arrival. But what creeps up on most, is the realization of its discrete turning – or churning depending on ones inclination or inner fortitude. An earlier work, Device for Digestion was recalled by many. To recognize that which is still moving is to recognise the enduring journey of us all. And Drummond’s Devices for Absorption and Reflection, locate these ideas both within and without – within the realm of digestion and peristalsis; and without, they suggest the sublime, where coal fines mimic a horizon, or a line that unfolds majestically between sky and distant land. Coal is thus tiny jewel polished for intimate reflection, and base material transformed deep within a grand mountainscape.
Which brings me to the element that in this exhibition is new, and that is Andrew Drummond’s photography. Snapped quietly whilst exploring the environs of West Coast coal mines over the last five years, these photographic works are a curious hybrid of technologies. They begin as black and white negatives which are then committed to file. Once digitized, Drummond lifts the magentas in particular, the image is drum scanned, and then printed in six colour onto rag paper. The result is stunning. In Falling Water, there is a veiled softness reminiscent of painting. In Ferns there is a silvered intensity that is almost Victorian in feel. And the fern fronds float in space like fingers reaching towards us – the reference to body manifest by placing Ferns immediately behind Reciprocating Device, Drawing.
So photography reinforces sculpture, as land might re-juvenate or re-fuel the body. The relationship is metaphoric, but full of choreography and grace. There is also an almost libertarian or Victorian approach to science, where the enduring landscapes of Van der Velden and the insistence of McCahon inform a most elegant sense of the kinetic. All of which is typically Drummond. Again, it is the potential for transformation and the sense of movement that is pivotal.
Even the Viewing Samples have the potential to spin. Gilded in gold and copper respectively, these jewel-like samples are drilled through with glass. Telescope-like, these tubes encourage us to sample, to view their jeweled interiors. We look to their sparkling cores with a scientist’s sense of duty and observation. And what we see is light – kaleidoscopically bright, bouncy and fractal. We also frame views through to the work beyond. To an exhibition that embodies an aesthetic both old and new, and a persistence that is slow burning.