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DAN ELBORNE

Displayed below is a chronologically ordered, personal selection of projects. To view more individual projects use the 'drop down' menu under "WORK" at the top of this page.


48 HOURS, 24 MINUTES AND 15 SECONDS, 2018 - 19.

Terracotta, glaze. Variable dimensions. 2018-19.

This work is currently showing at Adderton: House and Heart of Mercy.

Address
547 Ann Street
Brisbane Queensland 4000
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*  Closed Mondays and public holidays

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This work was commissioned by Adderton: House and Heart of Mercy (A contemporary art precinct in Brisbane city opened in 2019), and partnered with the White Wreath Association: Action Against Suicide.

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According to the most recent global estimate by the World Health Organisation, a person dies by suicide once every 40 seconds. 

In performative response and using terracotta, the artist created a handmade piece every 40 seconds, with no breaks, as a 1:1 representation of each death by suicide within the finite period of the performance. The performance period commenced at Alexandra Lawson Gallery on the morning of Monday, September 10th, 2018 (World Suicide Prevention Day) and lasted for 48 Hours, 24 Minutes and 15 Seconds, resulting in 4,356 ceramic pieces. The performance ceased due to the artist reaching a personal limit of mental and physical capacity. The action performed within every 40 second period involved refining the edges and base of an extruded clay form, then leaving a gestural thumb impression at the peak of each piece. This results in individualised loosely-figurative objects. 

For the primary purpose of suicide awareness and prevention, 48 Hours, 24 Minutes and 15 Seconds results from a fleeting performance in response to an ongoing crisis. Having the creation of the work cease due to mental and physical inability suggests that despite its production coming to an end, if capable, the creation of the objects would indefinitely continue.

The production of the work was streamed live via Youtube. The pieces created during the performance will be first exhibited in June of 2019 as one of seven artist/social enterprise collaborations for A Fierce Hope, the keynote exhibition for Brisbane’s newest art and cultural hub Adderton: house & heart of mercy.

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This work has been made in partnership with the White Wreath Association: Action Against Suicide, an Australian non-profit organisation working as a suicide prevention/awareness service. The primary vision of the White Wreath Association is to raise funds in order to establish Safe-haven Centres, care facilities to treat and aid those suffering mental illnesses and a place to go to for those who are suicidal. For more information on the work of the White Wreath Association, please visit and consider donation at: https://www.whitewreath.org.au/

Photography: Greg Henderson (exhibited work)

Alexandra Lawson (work in progress)


DEATHGATE, 2015-18.

Pinched clay, variable dimensions, 2015-2018.

Deathgate is a ceramic installation artwork comprising 1.3 million handmade pieces, each representing one person detained in the Auschwitz network of concentration camps.

Principally, the time and labour involved in producing this work is where its conceptual basis lies. The objects have been created in comparative reference to the stones that cover and surround the railway, which was used as the main mode of prisoner transportation into the Auschwitz II (Birkenau) extermination camp. Utilising a wide range of clay types and a process completely reliant on the hands of the artist; I have produced each ceramic ‘stone’ to feature a fingerprint: an index of human interaction. This is intended as both a reductive exercise in considering the treatment of those victimised, but also as a way to create retrospective evidence. This evidence demonstrates that beyond the surface of largely incomprehensible statistics, is the reality of lived and felt human history.

The work is presented as two separate beds of ceramic ‘stones’. One bed contains 1.1 million pieces, and the other; 200,000 pieces. This gives a direct visual reference to the number of deaths (1.1 million) compared with those who survived the Auschwitz camps (200,000).

Aesthetically, the installation is reminiscent of the railway leading through the main entrance of Auschwitz II, also known as 'the death gate’. Various elements of the work, including the colour ratio of chosen clay types and the size of the ceramic ‘stones’ directly respond to personal impressions and reference images taken while visiting the Auschwitz camps in January 2016. In no way does the work aim to wholly represent what was experienced by those victimised, but instead, references the history from an overarching and reflective standpoint. It is by attempting representation that I wish to invoke an imaginative sense of totality.

Alongside the reference to a railway line, the objects I have created acknowledge a Jewish tradition that involves placing stones on grave-sites. This practice has been interpreted in various ways but is commonly considered as a way to honour those lost. This is through an object which, unlike flowers that wither and die, encourages the metaphorical idea of permanence as it applies to remembering.

On June 28, 2015, I began developing this project and produced the first ceramic ‘stone’. This determined the completion date for Deathgate to be on November 21, 2018. Totalling 1,242 days or 3 years, 4 months and 24 days, the start-to-finish production of Deathgate directly corresponds with the mass killing of prisoners in the Auschwitz network of camps, where the first large-scale gassing of prisoners occurred on September 3, 1941, and ensued in various forms until the liberation of Auschwitz on January 27, 1945.

I intend for the work to not just reference those detained in the Auschwitz camps, but to be considered as a relative fraction of the total amount of Holocaust victims (6 million). The work aims to memorialise this unconscionable event while questioning the role of art in remembering such history. More broadly, the work speaks of abhorrence and the ongoing nature of prejudice, discrimination and genocide. If anything, the crucial intent of the work is for it to act as a contemplative agent and an exercise in empathy, both for myself and viewers alike.

Photography: James Green, Grace Yu, Hannah Roche and Dan Elborne.

CEREMONY, 2018.

Porcelain coated animal bone, glaze & gold lustre. Variable dimensions. 2018.

Ceremony continues from an incremental series, Remains, spanning from 2014 - 2017. These pieces exhibit the development of an experimental making process and ultimately encourage individualized, metaphorical interpretation.

In a broad sense, Ceremony explores traditions of preservation, commemoration and honorary material use while also investigating concepts of resilience, permanence and memorialization. The refinement of these ideas alongside the material-based experiments of series’ such as Ceremonyinform larger scale, literal projects, which are the primary focus of my art practice.

Photography: Theresa Hall.

 

REMAINS 2, 2017.

Porcelain coated animal bone, glaze & gold lustre. Individual average: 21.5 X 10.5 X 8.5cm. 2017.

Remains 2 is a continuation of my ongoing series, Remains, which began in 2014. These pieces from 2017 exhibit the development and refinement of an experimental making process, which acts as an outlet for larger scale, much more literal projects. While inviting individualized, metaphorical interpretation, the works personally offer an avenue for testing and better competency surrounding important materials to my practice (porcelain, bone & gold lustre).

In a broad sense and especially with this latest set of Remains, I hope for the work to speak of the delicate nature of life, alongside concepts of resilience and legacy, while also continuing an ongoing investigation of visually representing commemorative practices, reverence, preservation and memory.

Photography: Dan Elborne.

 

Five Hundred, 2016.

Slipcast earthenware, glaze, custom decals. 500 x .303' bullets, 2016.

Five Hundred symbolically represents my Dutch Grandfathers service during the Indonesian War of Independence (1945 – 1949). Directly after serving in WWII, he was one of a small portion of five hundred men initially drafted from Holland to the conflict in Indonesia. Each of the five hundred bullets are individually made and considerate of a balance between contemporary art practices and traditional methods of art making. The objects are cast from .303 bullets: the standard issue ammunition given to Dutch soldiers during my Grandfathers service in Indonesia. They are also cast using earthenware: the material traditionally used for the creation of Dutch “blue and white” delftware ceramics. The floral design has been produced using photographs of hand painted detailing on original delftware plates acquired by my Grandfather for his military service.  

My process and materials allow the work, as a whole, to utilize military style uniformity and broad historical relevance, while individually the objects represent notions of violence and fear as well as preciousness and fragility.

Five Hundred explores an intentional contradiction between the conceptual basis and historical relevance of the work against its visual appearance. By employing the brutality of military related forms against the delicate nature of the topic itself, I can somewhat communicate the harsh realities of war, as well as the sensitivity of memories related to it.

Photography: Grace Yu.

 

IN DEFENSE, 2016.

Handbuilt recycled/locally sourced clay, glaze, (individually) 135X3.5X3.5cm, 2016.

n Defense is a responsive protest toward the Australian federal governments (Friday, May 13th 2016) "black Friday" announcement to defund 65 previously supported arts companies and organisations.  This news follows a trend of continual attacks on the Australian arts sector since 2015, where arts funding has been severely cut alongside funding reallocations away from small-medium arts organisations and individual/emerging artists. 

In Defence presents wieldable objects reminiscent of medieval defensive measures; drawing loose parallels between an era of unfairness and brutality alongside the nature of our current arts funding situation. 

For more information on this news follow this link.

You can also keep up to date with arts related news, events and calls to action through organisations such as NAVA

Photography: Dan Elborne

 

WHERE THEY BURN BOOKS, 2016.

Slipcast Royal Copenhagen porcelain, glaze, gold lustre, book ash, 100X18X15cm, 2016.

Where They Burn Books was created during the Project Network Symposium (session II) at Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research Centre, Skaelskor, Denmark (January - February 2016).

 

Primarily acting as a memorial to the 1933 Nazi book burnings, where over 25,000 volumes of text were deemed “Un-German” and subsequently destroyed: ‘Where They Burn Books,’ references the power, resilience and preciousness of knowledge, which is made increasingly apparent through the act of burning books for the purpose of oppression.

By strengthening these ceramic objects through the firing process; they stand as martyrs to freedom of speech, and in a contemporary context, they celebrate current societies unprecedented access to text and information.

Displayed amongst the installation are dark forms, which were created from the compressed ashes of every book used to produce this work.

The title acknowledges the writing of nineteenth-century German Jewish poet, Heinrich Heine, who’s play Almawnsor (1820-21), was burnt in 1933 Germany. Within his play Heine wrote: “Where they burn books, they will also ultimately burn people.”

Photography: Ole  Akhoj

 

GOLD, 2015.

Handbuilt Limoges porcelain, glaze, gold lustre, variable dimensions (collective average 11x7x10cm), 2015.

Gold was produced at the AIR Vallauris residency program, Vallauris, southern France (May-June 2015).

This series was created using Limoges porcelain, imprinted with pieces of pavement from the ‘old centre’ of Vallauris, and finished with copious amounts of gold lustre. Gold appeals to a historical obsession with mining valuable natural minerals, often to the detriment of the environment and respective natural habitats. Through my choice of materials and process, this series questions what constitutes modern ideas of value.

Photography: Dan Elborne.

 

REMAINS, 2014 - 16.

Porcelain coated animal bone, glaze, gold lustre. Variable dimensions. 2014 – 16.

My environment and cultural experience provide the conceptual references for my art practice. The intersection of the personal with overarching historical events further informs the work.

Clay, as a material, enables me to respond to issues related to monumental moments in history often associated with tragedy and trauma. This interest has subsequently led to research on inhumane acts carried out under the guise of scientific experimentation.

In response to this; through the use of an experimental process, Remains represents the animalistic behaviours of mankind; highlighting the glorification of brutality within historical events and contemporary culture.

Photography: Grace Yu.

 

ARBEIT MACHT FREI: WORK MAKES YOU FREE, 2014.

Handmade porcelain tiles, custom glaze, timber, metal. 251.5 x 109 x 111cm. 2014.

This project is a response to my 2012 visit to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, Germany. Exploring experiential connections between objects and their wider artistic and cultural histories, this work acts to memorialize both the Holocaust and its victims, initiated by physical contact with objects related to that history.

I chose to re-create the object that most affected me from this trip, an autopsy table, which remains in the pathology lab of the camp. The table maintains an illusion of sterility and stillness, a seemingly objective display embodied in the human sciences, and yet expresses the brutality, ugliness and suffering of innocent men, women and children.

The proportions of the table are situated between that of the original and my memory of being in contact with it, allowing the work to find a middle ground between replication and personal perception. The table is also cold to the touch, mimicking the conditions felt during my visit to Sachsenhausen, while also symbolizing the overarching nature of the work. By addressing multiple senses through the creation of an experience relative to my own, I introduce viewers to a space constructed for contemplation.

I have individually handmade each porcelain tile as a means of bringing the physicality of the body into an event shrouded by inhumane atrocities and trauma beyond understanding. Regarding my choice of material, porcelain personifies the preciousness and fragility of both personal and collective histories surrounding The Holocaust.

By creating this work, I am not suggesting that I could emulate the tragedy and horror of The Holocaust. Instead, I intend to empathetically address my limited experience of an event that affected, and continues to affect, so many.

Photography: Grace Yu.

 

ONE DROP OF BLOOD, 2013.

Handmade porcelain, glazed. Varying dimensions. 2013.

This project is partnered with the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Australia.

One Drop of Blood is a representation of the white blood cell equivalent to one drop of human blood. These cells have the purpose of attacking disease and infection. One drop containing a number that ranges between seven and twenty five thousand (this number often indicating the seriousness of whatever the body is trying to expel).

One Drop of Blood contains individually handmade porcelain cells, mimicking a high ranging white blood cell count. This projects scale and installation aim to overwhelm the viewer, while the use of porcelain connects it with preciousness and fragility, both of which echo major elements relating to the personal memory behind this work. This is overarched by ‘One Drop of Blood’ acting as a tool for raising awareness to Breast Cancer Research.

In the tradition of artist's like Felix Gonzalez-Torres; viewers are invited to take portions of the work away with them in exchange for a donation to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. This participation is intended to emulate my mothers dropping white blood cell count during chemotherapy, while raising funds toward breast cancer research.

Photography: Ben Tupas.

Background photograph by Alec Shultz.