Handheld II brings together artists from across South Australia to create works of art responding to themes of home, travel and place.
The five artists – Karumapuli Jacob Stengle, Debra Rankine, Sandra Saunders, Christopher Burthurmarr Crebbin and Peter Sharrock – have each been challenged to fit their pieces within a vintage suitcase, which is then used to transport the works of art to various venues throughout regional South Australia.
This second iteration of Handheld invites audiences to explore the differing and personal responses to contemporary ideas of place and its meaning to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. With artists coming from all corners of South Australia, the exhibition takes in the breadth of the state: Sandra Saunders resides on the west coast in small town of Wangary; Christopher Burthurmarr Crebbin lives in the beautiful Adelaide Hills; close by, Karumpapuli Jacob Stengle and Peter Sharrock are based in the suburbs of Adelaide; and, further south, Debra Rankine resides in the Coorong area.
Not only are there variations in the artists’ geographic locations but also in their mediums. Traditionally a ceramicist, Sharrock has decided to instead focus on painting with ochres. Complementing him is Stengle, with nostalgic paintings about his time in a boy’s home as a stolen-generation child, and Saunders, who creates political works with a satirist humour. Crebbin similarly takes a departure from the painting medium to create a sculptural piece, as does Rankine, who has chosen to create a work of art that tells of her family’s historic traditions by weaving her take on a traditional story mat.
The artists were encouraged to extend their installation beyond the boundaries of the suitcase and provide a set of simple exhibiting instructions for each of the venues hosting the show. The objective is to engage installers, the gallery staff, volunteers and the audience to explore, more intimately, the works of art on show and to form these works in their own, individual way. Using the Handheld concept as framework, and with the underlining principle of tactility, the artists can consider how people interact with their work and set as many or as few boundaries as they wish the public and gallery staff to have.
Handheld II continues the discussion begun in 2013, exploring the themes of home, travel and place from a uniquely Aboriginal perspective. It is hoped that these artists will inspire discussion, reflection and exploration as their very personal works journey around the state.