Twisted flax pods: balance / counterbalance

Exhibition: Looking Glass 2009 at Sarjeant Gallery, Wanganui, New Zealand
Artist statement: by Ann Robinson

In 1990 I put together an exhibition called ‘ADRIFT’ (for Elliott.Brown Gallery, Seattle, USA.) This exhibition addressed the phenomena of seed drift, response to natural currents and colonisation in a new land. It also alluded to a state of mind in the creative process. i.e. the process by which an idea might find fertile soil and sprout and grow. Parochial, regional? That’s what I am. What else can I be? Gardener and New Zealander I marvel at the vigour and energy around me? I'm neither the first nor the last to explore the patterns the bush offers; rhythmic patterns are the music of the land. Making these works is my way to feel and understand, to take the music of the land into myself.

One of the works in Adrift was a pair of Twisted Flax Pods inspired by the flax seedpods that grow in abundance around my home at Karekare.

I have made paired Flax Pods with changing emphasis on 17 different occasions. I find the process of reworking a piece can lead in an unexpected direction. It requires feeling around inside one’s self for the solution, for the image that satisfies and expresses my half-understood feelings.

At first the pods were twins, individuals, lying together in a harmonious relationship. I thought, like a pair resting after some strenuous encounter.... peaceful, spent. 

Over the following years I have frequent focused on seedpods as a metaphor for fertility, symbolising the promise of an abundant future. This sentimentality for the natural world is perhaps a longing for an old connection to a fecund world, a world of spirit and place that we have lost today.

Balance and counterbalance have become an increasing focus.

‘Twisted Flax Pods’, made in 2009 for this exhibition, ‘Looking Glass’, continue the theme but it is not only the idea and the forms that are of interest to me. I have also been preoccupied with solving technical restraints. Here the twin pods are joined, demonstrating my growing interest in counter-balancing the pieces against each other, so that the weight of each pod can be used to hold the other pod in an active way, to appear weightless. This lively solution is achieved through the strength of the cast metal 'stalk' connection. In order to work out how to do this, I made small models to gain some understanding of the dynamics involved.

Also the colour of this pair differs from all previous works. They have previously alluded to a naturalistic pallet. These new ones will be dark, a midnight navy, and a change in the focus from the naturist to an increasing attention on the nature of balance.