Pip McManus — HYPERCLAY
Wednesday November 23 2011
Welcome to the penultimate instalment in the HYPERCLAY: Contemporary Ceramics artist profile series. Every week for the last seven weeks we have been profiling the artists involved in HYPERCLAY — you can catch up on the rest of the series here.
This week: Pip McManus.
McManus was raised in Perth, where she studied French at the University of Western Australia, before she spent some years travelling through Europe and Africa. She then returned to Australia, studying ceramics full time in Adelaide in the late 1970s before relocating to Alice Springs in 1981, where she has been based ever since.
Initially, McManus spent a lot of time doing decorative, illustrative 2D work, but in recent years has become more interested in 3D works — something she did a lot of in her studies and early years — as well as incorporating different media. This is reflected in the work included in HYPERCLAY, Watershed 2, 2010, a 22 minute meditative film featuring three submerged figures under a cascade of fine red desert sand.
Watershed 2 follows the same idea as her previous work Watershed, a wider view of the three figures that allows you to see the placement of their hands in ‘rock, paper, scissors’ formation — something that led their ancient, regal profiles, which do seem to reference spiritual figures such as Buddha or the Three Wise Monkeys, an almost playful edge. That playfulness, however, is moderated by the seriousness of the questioning of the arbitrary nature of such decision-making.
You can see McManus discussing her process from her Alice Springs studio in our Visual and Audio Gallery here as she discusses the creation of Watershed 2 for HYPERCLAY and goes into more detail about the meaning the work has for her. This video is one of four included in the HYPERCLAY app housed on iPads that will tour with the exhibition.
Writer and curator Dr Julia Jones has talked about McManus’ work as combining the ‘ancient and early medium of ceramics with the new mediated form of video [… creating] a compelling symbiosis between the mediums.’ Loretta Picone, studying a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours) at the Sydney College of the Arts, appreciates McManus’ ‘ancient resonance […] but contemporary as well.’ (Interviews of both Jones and Picone are also included in the HYPERCLAY exhibition app.)
It is surely no coincidence that both commentators use the word ‘ancient’, with the classically-styled figures accompanied by the old desert sand, but there is no denying the modernity inherent in the filming of the work for presentation. McManus’ Watershed 2 will tour to all venues over the next couple of years. For a full list of dates and venues, and for more information on HYPERCLAY, click here.
As an added bonus, if you are in Alice Springs before 22 January 2012, you can see another group exhibition featuring McManus’ work at Araluen Arts Centre. Head to www.araluenartscentre.nt.gov.au for more information.