Canberra-based artist Heather B. Swann’s wearable sculptures of enormous dark and brooding Banksia Men engage not only with the natural realm, but also hint at the villainous characters from tales by the Australian children’s author May Gibbs. Capturing the essence of Gibbs’ creatures, Swann’s Banksia Men (2015) also lurk and unsettle. This squadron of anthropomorphic sculptures come to life either when worn in performance or when installed at the Art Gallery of South Australia during Magic Object.
Swann’s sculptures speak to the relentless anthropomorphism practised by the artisans of the Wunderkammer, who, like Swann herself, exercised extraordinary skill in the time-devouring craft of material transformation. Also reminiscent of Surrealist imagery, Swann’s work dissolves the boundaries between human and non-human while transforming into something other and not from this realm.
Heather B. Swann’s works is on display in Gallery 24 at the Art Gallery of South Australia during Magic Object.