Comet II, 1988
x 30.0 cm
Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney
Private collection, France
Bronwyn Oliver, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney, 1988
The intricately woven copper form of 'Comet II' represents a seminal shift in Bronwyn Oliver's early practice. Exhibited in the artist's self-titled show at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery in 1988, this work is one of the earliest instances of Oliver's craftsmanship with copper, having previously sculpted with materials such as paper, cane and fibreglass. The work is a stunning example of what would become the artist's signature practice; the painstaking manipulation of copper into elegant, deceptively simple forms which echo the organic shapes of plant and sea life.
Curator Amanda Rowell has written of Oliver's work: "Their tactility and anatomical physicality gives them an animal-like quality. They remind us that the world is a corporeal place." However, while this sculpture undoubtedly evokes the idiosyncratic structure of a jellyfish, the title of the work sends our imaginings in a dual direction: not only to the depths of the ocean, but also to the outer reaches of the universe. In titling the work 'Comet II' the artist complicates the way that we initially see the artwork, pulling into focus the fabulous ambiguity and infinite possibilities of Oliver's forms.
Image courtesy of the artist's estate and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery
When Bronwyn Oliver enrolled to study painting at Sydney's Alexander Mackie College in 1977, a computer error assigned her to the school's sculpture department instead. A fortuitous glitch indeed, since the young artist was not only instantly taken with three-dimensional media, but also went on to become one of Australia's most significant sculptors.
Oliver was an artist of unique vision, and had an extraordinarily focused commitment to her practice. When she died in 2006 at age 47 she left a legacy of nearly three decades of outstanding work, including both domestic sculptures and ambitiously-scaled commissions such as 'Vine' which spirals 16.5 meters from the ceiling of Sydney's Hilton Hotel.
After graduating from art school in Sydney, Oliver completed her Masters of Art at Chelsea School of Art in London in 1983. In 1993 she was selected for the inaugural Beijing Biennale, and in 1994 she was the recipient of the prestigious Moet & Chandon Fellowship. Her signature organic metal sculptures are now held in most major public collections in Australia as well as many important national and international private and corporate collections. A significant retrospective of her work was held at the McClelland Sculpture Park and Gallery in 2005, and in 2006 Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery held the memorial exhibition 'Bronwyn Oliver 1959 - 2006'.
Oliver said of her art: "When the ideas, the formal elements and the medium all work together a sculpture will 'sing' with a kind of rightness. It takes on a life, a presence, which is removed from this world. It belongs to a mythical other life, without a place in time."