Playground is an exhibition of seven multi-disciplinary artists who consider themes of innocence, fantasy and nostalgia whilst referencing the imagination, notions of utopia, the real and unreal. Through a collection of works that explore the nature of playfulness, Playground reveals our shared experiences with childhood sentimentality through the lens of visual art and contemporary craft and design.

The playground is considered a communal space where ideas, experimentation, fantasy and the imagination rule. It is a place where we gather material, action and fables whilst sharing experiences and fostering new collaborations. Here, we can delve into the depths of utopian worlds; we can playfully abandon reality and reimagine the ordinary. It is a stage to ponder and contemplate spaces and the objects around us.

History recounts that art, predictably, is most inclined toward the uninhibited imagination: fantasies and nostalgic memories are sometimes the starting point of people’s engagement with the visual arts. The Fluxus artists of the 1960s committed to ‘playful’ art by valuing simplicity; unifying art, life, and participation through Fluxus ‘work’ – an ethos that was valued by the movement as a whole. Fluxus art valued models of creativity that offered communal, participatory and open-ended alternatives to traditional, rigid forms and functions of art making. Their simplified engagement was open to all – a social act that was transformative and inclusive. Although it may not have always been considered serious or a critical part of art, it did play a fundamental role in framing an ideology around the collective, collaborative approach to art-making.

Playground’s exploration of this transformative ideology is investigated in the utopian environments of sculptor Amy Joy Watson and craft artist Ebony Bizys. Here, we see art as a platform to transcend realities and a medium to explore the uncanny. Through a site-specific ‘build your own adventure’ installation, visual artist, Jessie Lumb and you, the audience, will create a space of foraged reimagined objects, questioning functionality and focusing on the art of mindfulness. Billie Justice Thomson’s large-scale mural Peaches & Dreams conjures the curiosity of story-telling in a painting valuing simplicity and technique . Jeweller, Peta Kruger, configures maps of meaning using delicate beads, crystals, rings and pendants evoking memories of people and locations whilst connecting meaning with object. This study of space and time is further experimented through its interaction with the wearer. Designers Evie Group (Alex Gilmour & Dominic Chong) present a series of works that playfully explore elements of object memory and sentimentality through lively and whimsical homeware pieces.

We can see in the works of these artists and designers elements of art history, popular culture, geology and the environment intersecting with youthful, childlike sentiment. Each work explores the thresholds of dreams and reality, fact and fable. These manifestations encourage the viewer to rethink the ordinary and participate in imaginative thinking both individually or cooperatively.

Rayleen Forester


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