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Artists Statement

Gallery distancing: dislocations and interventions

Merryn Hull

Gallery distancing: dislocations and interventions explores how the transformation of elements within existing architecture can create new and critical experiences for the viewer. The exhibition uses subtle rearrangements within the AIRspace gallery to express the sense of dislocation that we are currently experiencing due to Covid-19.

Originally I had planned a quite different June exhibition at AIRspace and had gone there earlier in the year to familiarise myself with the gallery. I took a lot of photos. I found the empty gallery intoxicating and after a while stopped taking the photos I needed and started taking photos of the gallery itself. They were simple black and white shots of doors, openings, and changes of level. I propped the garage doors open and watched the sun come through, intrigued by the way the gallery transformed.

I have always been interested in ways that artists work with architecture to create new experiences either through interventions (such as opening walls or slicing through buildings) or through rearrangements and alterations of existing architecture. Artists like the American conceptual minimalist Michael Asher (1943-2012) changed buildings in particular ways to explore complex social issues.

As my June AIRspace exhibition approached I realised that my photographic documentation was now more interesting to me than the work I planned to show. I recognised that the gallery photographs that I had taken could be placed in strategic locations throughout the gallery to evoke the sense of disorientation resulting from Covid-19. The AIRspace committee supported my changed plans and I applied to CreateNSW for funding to further develop these ideas.

The result is an exhibition that focuses on the altered gallery. Rather than placing objects within the gallery, I use photographic images of recognisable views – doorways, stairs, openings etc – placed in unexpected locations to change the gallery. These transformed views simultaneously provide both shock and familiarity, reinforcing our sense of disorientation in our disrupted world.

Merryn Hull is a Sydney and Hunter Valley-based artist working across painting, installation, sculpture and the photographic. She is a second career artist, having formerly worked as an architect. She graduated with a BFA (Hons) in 2012 and an MFA in 2014, both from the National Art School, and completed a PhD at Sydney College of the Arts in 2019. Her work engages ideas, philosophies, and materials of sculpture to explore the idea of transformation. In demonstrating their transformative possibilities, her work can be seen to provoke different ways of seeing and understanding our contemporary world.

Merryn has shown her work in solo and group exhibitions in recent locations including Verge Gallery Darlington; Factory 49 Marrickville; Articulate Gallery Leichhardt; AIRspace Projects Marrickville; Cessnock Regional Art Gallery, Hunter Valley; SCA Main Gallery Rozelle; Sculpture in the Vineyards, Wollombi; New World Art Prize, NG Gallery Chippendale; Delmar Gallery Ashfield and various galleries at the National Art School, Darlinghurst.