Alan Constable

The expressive clay cameras of Alan Constable are not without irony. Legally blind, the artist’s own limitations of sight have carved open a new field of vision. Working closely with referent objects, he commits the physical forms of optical instruments to memory and then to clay. Pinched, pushed, pummelled and smoothed, Constable’s accentuated cameras and viewfinders bear the markings of his mind.

Constable’s enduring fascination with ‘objects that see’ began when he was eight years old, during which time he would create sculptures of cameras with cardboard from cereal boxes. Since 1987, he has been producing his optical art objects at Arts Project Australia in Melbourne. Constable’s solitary practice involves holding the referent object millimetres from his eyes as he scans, traces and touches the surface before intuitively rendering his impressions in clay. He works quickly, building and assembling each camera component —body, lens, viewfinder, buttons, knobs and handles. This tactile translation from object to clay, unmitigated by the subjectivity of optical vision, materialises Constable’s mind’s eye. Each camera is a portal into his inner world, inviting us to look through their distorted and exaggerated viewfinders to see things anew.

Constable’s new series of ceramics, which includes ten cameras and one pair of binoculars, explore different ways of seeing. Expressive embodiments of visual technology, the works prompt us to recalibrate our vision and reassess what is worth looking at. Playing with the function of photography, the artist self-reflexively captures the object that captures the image. He reaches beyond the recording function of the camera to expose the simple beauty of its form. In this way, the works are about distilling revelation from concealment.

Alan Constable
7 April –  5 May 2018

Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney

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