As an art material [dust] might be best described as im/material and form/less and as ‘enduringly temporary’ matter. This term encapsulates both its fragile impermanence and its never-ending presence. The dust artwork in the gallery may seem to be a temporary arrangement of dust. But it also is connected to the broader cycle of dust’s perpetuity in the world. Before the work could be made, dust was collected from sites around the city. These dusts are then mixed with dusts from previous iterations of the work. In this way the work is indebted to the continuous production of dust by man and nature. At the end of the exhibition the work will be swept up and thrown away.
Hannah Bertram has been creating dust drawing installations throughout the world since 2007. Over the course of the project, she has used dust, dirt and grime collected from streets, sheds, vacuum cleaners, studios, prison cells and museum basements. Her most recent installation at the Palais De Tokyo in Paris used dust collected from the Parisian catacombs. For this work, Hannah spent time researching the local history here in Newcastle and collecting local dust samples. Each work is temporary. Each will decay and deteriorate over time. This idea of ‘the temporary’ is linked to the Japanese philosophy and aesthetic Wabi Sabi – that is, the acceptance of growth, decay and death as an integral part of living. Some projects are intentionally removed, but most are left to disintegrate naturally.
The laying down of the dust is a laborious process. Stencils are cut from paper. The dust is then carefully ‘flocked’ using sieves. Adhesives are not used, and the odd accidental footstep or finger print might be found.
Hannah is a lecturer at Deakin University and currently completing a MFA (by research) . She has exhibited and completed residencies in across Australia, USA, Norway and Hong Kong. Hannah was a finalist in the 2015 Prudential Eye Awards Singapore. Her most recent acclaimed work 'Phoenix in Ruins' was installed over 5 weeks on the walls of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. Click here for images and text.
View Hannah's website