is an exhibition of new video work and photographs by David Lawrey & Jaki Middleton, based upon a fictionalised account of John Henry Pepper’s ‘cloud compelling’ experiment, which took place in 1882 at Brisbane’s Eagle Farm racecourse.
Pepper is perhaps best know for his contribution in developing and popularising the theatrical illusion ‘Pepper’s Ghost’ which Lawrey & Middleton have used to great effect in a number of previous works; however he was also a passionate scientist and educator. For this exhibition, the artists have chosen to delve into Pepper’s life in Australia, drawing parallels between the illusion he popularised and his own delusions of grandeur.
As the narration of Open Sky
reports the story of Pepper’s arrival in Australia, his tour of ‘the ghost’ across the country and the manifestation of his rainmaking experiment – the visuals slowly alternate between a scene of endless clouds and a drought-stricken landscape. It soon becomes apparent that the scenes are made from hand-fabricated miniature sets, manipulated in various ways to create impressions of depth and scale. Open Sky
blurs the boundaries between film, sculpture and installation, revealing the artifice of a reality in which every certainty may well be false.
David Lawrey & Jaki Middleton are Sydney-based artists who have worked collaboratively since 2005. The artists have undertaken residencies in Paris, London, Los Angeles and New York, and their work is held in the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Wollongong Art Gallery and Macquarie Group. Open Sky
is Lawrey & Middleton’s third exhibition with Gallery 9. In 2015 the artists held their first survey exhibition, Between Worlds
at Hawkesbury Regional Gallery. Other recent exhibitions include Mind the Gap
at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre in 2014, Living in the Ruins of the Twentieth Century
at UTS Gallery, Sydney; The Hunt
at Gallery 9, Sydney (both 2013); Time & Vision
at the Bargehouse Gallery, London in 2012; and Otherworldly
at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York in 2011, which subsequently toured to MUba – Eugène Leroy,Tourcoing, France in 2012.
Press release courtesy Gallery 9.