Shigeo Toya’s ‘Woods III’ is celebrated for its formal beauty

Consisting of 30 squared-off tree trunks elaborately carved with a chainsaw and arranged in an orderly open grid, Shigeo Toya’s Woods III 1991–92 (illustrated) on display at the Queensland Art Gallery until 27 January 2025 is celebrated for its formal beauty as well as its poetic and philosophical allusions. For Toya, the recesses and crevices…

Peking Opera robe made in transparent plastic

Chinese artist Wang Jin’s Robe 1999 renders the iconic form of the Peking Opera robe in transparent plastic embroidered with fishing line (illustrated). The juxtaposition of a traditional high-cultural form and modern synthetic material refers to transformations in Chinese society, most pointedly the rapid evolution of consumerism. Robe is on display within the exhibition ‘I…

Telia rumal: Double ikat textiles from South India

This collection of extraordinary telia rumal (some of which are on display within the exhibition ‘I Can Spin Skies’ at the Queensland Art Gallery’s Henry and Amanda Bartlett Galleries (5 & 6) was made using time-consuming double ikat dyeing techniques. Few weavers still maintain the skills required to create these attractive textiles, in part because…

Fairy Tales: Curiouser & curiouser!

Just as the woods are a recurrent setting in classic fairy tales, gardens are important to many stories told since the nineteenth century. Expectations of gardens as picturesque and orderly are often subverted in these tales. Following the White Rabbit into Wonderland, Alice remarks ‘curiouser and curiouser!’ at her strange surroundings; and Dorothy passes through…

Memories of homeland

In Hafiz in diaspora (illustrated) Amin Taasha has used sheets from a book of poetry by Hafiz (Persia c.1315–90) to render symbols and motifs from his own life and the history and mythology of Afghanistan and Central Asia. These include illustrations of the Gandharan Buddhist–style imagery that Bamiyan was known for; ammunition and weaponry of…

O: A multi-channel video & sound installation

For those who have travelled in the Northern Territory and witnessed the central Australian landscape, the experience is often described as transformative. There is little to compare to the silence and vastness — the ragged beauty and an overwhelming sense of archaic time. For Japanese-born and, since 1996, London-based artist Hiraki Sawa, ten days spent…