Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower—but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.
-Alfred Lord Tennyson, Flower in the Crannied Wall, 1863
Observation Aquarium I (Day 2 of decomposition), perspex acrylic box, paper, glue, water, 25.4cm x 25.4cm x 91.44cm, 2019
Observation Aquarium I (Day 2 of decomposition) (detail), 2019
Observation Aquarium I (Day 41 of decomposition), 2019
Observation Aquarium III (Day 1 of decomposition), perspex acrylic box, paper, glue, water, 55.8cm x 113.03cm x 15.24cm, 2019
Observation Aquarium II (Day 41 of decomposition) (detail), 2019
Observation Aquarium II (Day 41 of decomposition), perspex acrylic box, paper, glue, water, 33.02cm x 33.02cm x 60.96cm, 2019
Observation Aquarium VI (Day 2 of decomposition), perspex acrylic box, paper, glue, water, 55.8cm x 55.8cm x 76.2cm, 2019
Gabriela Avila Yiptong, Rachel Gray and Lea Hamilton (Common Ground Collective) offer an experiential and reflective environment in I came back and things were different. Through their varied artistic practices, the collective explore the overlap of natural and manufactured spaces through lenses of time, influence and control.
Gabriela Avila Yiptong’s transparent, glassed receptacles contain processed paper material partially submerged in water. Combining the organic materials at different times (some sealed months ago, others just prior to the exhibition) allows for the work to depict various stages in the degradation of the paper. As the water alters its chemical makeup and physical appearance, the objects are both destroyed and reborn. Water, life’s most integral element, leaves the paper unable to be used, whilst simultaneously offering the opportunity for new - albeit perhaps microscopic - life to begin.
[...]Avila Yiptong’s glass containers, act largely as markers of time, indicating irreversible changes to their structures and environments. In this way, it is the materials and the passage of time that largely create and recreate the artwork, continuing to alter as time passes.
Created by all three artists, the large hanging sculpture is comprised, like all of the artwork in the exhibition, of materials easily sourced and naturally derived. Gray’s drawings call to mind humankind’s enjoyment of nature, but also our control and utilisation of it, presented here in an urban city building. Hamilton’s plaster-casted sculptures, as seen in the pond, reflect on humanity’s predilection to, and reliance on refining natural resources into controlled, manufactured objects.
The Collective act as catalysts for the elements and their effects in their work, as well as for the viewers who will interact in the space. In every natural environment, like that of the forest, the pond or the river, elements interact with each other in efforts to find both growth and stability.
The water makes a path through the earth, the tree will grow upwards towards the sun. Similarly, the viewer here must find their own way through the space without a clear path through the exhibition.
I came back and things were different may evoke to some a feeling of loss of control or even vulnerability, but in this environment, Avila Yiptong, Gray and Hamilton embrace the unknown and even the decay their efforts will induce, both exerting and relinquishing control over their works’ ephemeral appearances and making the continual processes and interactions, rather than its resulting effects, the focus of their works.
Text (including poetry excerpt) by Rose Ekins from the exhibition catalogue (City of Ottawa)
Concept, creation and curation by Gabriela Avila Yiptong, Rachel Gray and Lea Hamilton
All images by Julia Martin
Common Ground Collective thanks the Ontario Arts Council and the City of Ottawa for their support in 2019.
Copyright © 2022-2023 Gabriela Avila Yiptong
All Rights Reserved.