Headed back to Sydney last week just in time to catch Canberran Rosalind Lemoh at Grantpirrie, opening alongside Hossein Valamanesh and Peter McKay. (The two gentlemen are both incredible in their own right, but I focus on Lemoh here because I can partially credit her with my recently-found ability to fully appreciate sculpture. I’m slow, I know) Here are some thoughts I had on Lemoh’s work when I first saw it late last year…
The lines between artist and craftsman, creator and maker are often blurred, for who and what belongs to which, and how do such terms relate to elitist ideals of what art should be? This decidedly grey area is intriguing to sculptor Rosalind Lemoh who, as a woman utilising stereotypically masculine materials and techniques, finds herself an outsider in a field where many such contradictions exist.
Lemoh questions the murky division between artist and tradesperson, how sculptors might fit into these definitions and how these terms contribute to conceptions of ‘high’ and ‘low’ art. Lemoh tackles this subject in her sculpture A Feast for Fools. This work of polished concrete and readymadets contrasts a still life composition of finely rendered fruits and vegetables borrowed from 16th and 17th century painting tradition with tradesman’s ladders. The ladders reference labour-intensive sculptural process and the mechanics of both the workshop and gallery. By utilising these components Lemoh credits the importance of the production process and technical skills of the artist as, to quote Lemoh’s earlier work, the creation of the artwork is in no small part due to the maker’s ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’
Lemoh admits that these conceptual relationships to art history and art practice operate largely outside of pre-conceived notions of what contemporary art is and how it should look, but it is this very collision of classical and contemporary ideals which challenges the relevance of art and exposes its uneasy relationship to classist ideals in our society.