John Hurrell – 16 March, 2016
Looking at the plaque outside the entrance to St Paul St Gallery, one reads that Saint Paul is the patron of authors, evangelists, journalists, missionaries, musicians, public workers, publishers, rope and saddlemakers, tentmakers and writers. Obviously you are invited to work your way through that list, checking whether Leach's project demonstrates those properties which somehow might be anchored to the Maratoto boulder and its 'siblings'.
From where she was standing
19 February - 24 March 2016
A collection of rocks (fake and real); moving images of rocks; plaques placed alongside rocks; a video showing a censored fax (being reproduced on a lithographic rock) about a plaque; plus a (hard copy) published sequence of blogs about all of these: this exhibition by Maddie Leach invites you to examine these elements and find coherence, to eliminate disruptive disparities - such as physical distance - and tightly pull conceptual threads so they come together.
In 2014 Leach had a residency at Spaced, in Mandurah, Western Australia where during her research she heard about the Battle of Pinjarra (1834), a colonial massacre of the Noongar people. On the site of that calamitous event, the local aluminium mining company, ALCOA, has donated a large boulder monument, and a plaque the wording of which remains highly contentious and unresolved. (eg. Can a ‘massacre’ be a ‘battle’?) The boulder she has filmed and scanned to make a digital video projection, its 3D form rotating in Gallery Two.
At the local museum Leach also investigated a 488g chondrite meteorite that passed as a sonic-booming fire ball over Pinjarra in 1984, and landed on a local beach - something she first noticed on the museum website. A three dimensional reproduction of this projectile is also displayed in Gallery Two, opposite the HD video of the scanned boulder memorial.
Around the corner in the St Paul St (AUT) foyer is the video of the making of a lithographic print (of a hand drawing of a redacted fax from the local council, sent to a plaque maker about the memorial for the Battle of Pinjarra). Nearby are copies of the blog publication on a seat. Outside near the footpath is a large rock from Maratoto (in Coromandel) that is temporarily installed. With its plaque, Leach commemorates the alleged symbolic attributes of St Paul the Apostle.
For my money the strongest and weakest works here are in the AUT foyer. In the video, 28 October 2884, the laborious preparation of the stone surface (a rock from Bavaria) in readiness for the drawing and then the ink is fascinating, as it becomes a metaphor for the slow erosion of denial, the setting up of the ground for the arrival of truth.
The publication, From where she was standing, is (in my view) self indulgent and waffly with its series of eight weekly posts, but not as much a ‘shaggy dog story’ as her earlier If you find the good oil let us know publication and project. This project has much more focus in the way it builds up to the significance of the censored fax - and believe or not - is less convoluted, with fewer rambling digressions. And it is probably intended (in its drawn out nature) to be a readable equivalent of the lithographic video. Real time is an essential component for both.
Looking at the plaque outside the entrance to St Paul St Gallery, one reads that Saint Paul is the patron of authors, evangelists, journalists, missionaries, musicians, public workers, publishers, rope and saddlemakers, tentmakers and writers. Obviously you are invited to work your way through that list, checking whether Leach’s project demonstrates those properties which somehow might be anchored to the Maratoto boulder and its ‘siblings’. For an imaginative person there are ways they all fit into this complicated configuration of exhibits, Leach operating under the Saint’s tutelage, investigating under his guidance.