Callum Morton

‘View from a Bridge’ at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery is Callum Morton's first show in Sydney in eight years. Featuring three wall sculptures and a collection of drawings depicting public figures, the show engages with various thematic avenues of ‘the end’, in all its contemporary poignance.

Continuing his focus on the personal and social impacts of our built environment, Morton’s monumental wall sculptures are one-to-one scale replicas of the window frames on the facade of the renowned Sirius Building in The Rocks. Sirius was designed by Tao Gofers in 1978, built to provide a home for many of the original residents of The Rocks in Sydney who had fought to remain living in the area during the famous Green Bans movement of the 1960s and ‘70s. The building symbolised a beginning. Today, it represents for Morton a symbol of the end, a memorial of all the activism that underpinned its incarnation. In recent years when Sirius was vacated in lieu of the government’s plans to demolish it and erect luxury apartments – ignoring its heritage listing and reputation as a significant piece of Brutalist architecture – Morton visited the last remaining resident, Myra Demetriou. By this time, in 2016, the other seventy-eight apartments had been vacated and wire fencing with security guards encircled the building’s perimeter. Installed in Myra’s study window was an LED strip light reading SOS (Save Our Sirius). These red letters blinked over the city at night, ‘from the topmast of a sinking ship’, reflects Morton. ‘What stayed with me was the SOS’, says the artist, ‘this plea to save the building … a kind of marker of an end time’.

In the gallery, Morton’s window works emit a pulsating light that changes colour in a palette mimicing the iconic painted service ducts on the exterior of the Sirius building. Corresponding with these undulating swells of light is an audio track, different for each piece. In one window, Siri is intoning every different term for ‘the end’ that she can compute – the robotic voice of the future talking about having no future. The second window resounds with the ceaseless sound of a machine shutting down. It tries to shut down, but can never reach the end. In the final work, the doomsday clock counts down from 100, continually looping back to its never-ending beginning. Morton explains, ‘the loop is a very important part of my work – the end begins again; there are always different ends, and beginnings of ends; forever ends.’ Each of Morton’s windows are painted roughly with white paint behind them, like an abandoned shop front, creating a cloudy play of light as it shines through.

As with much of Morton’s work, ‘View from a Bridge’ presents a melancholic urban archaeology that prompts us to consider the relationship between history and the present; the end and the beginning.

View From A Bridge
4 June – 4 July 2020
Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

Latest  /  Most Viewed  /  Related