Rosalie Gascoigne: Piece to Walk Around

Art Artwork from Australia. Published by M.C.A. on Tuesday 07 October 2014.

Rosalie Gascoigne: Piece to Walk Around image Rosalie Gascoigne: Piece to Walk Around image Rosalie Gascoigne: Piece to Walk Around image

The assemblages of Rosalie Gascoigne are inspired by the landscape of the Monaro, in the southwest of New South Wales, where she lived from 1943. This environment provided both the experiences which shaped her work as well as the materials, found on her journeys through it.

Gascoigne’s Piece to Walk Around (1981) refers directly to the experience of moving through the Australian landscape. It was titled to draw attention to the changing visual effects as one circles the work and the shifting play of light on the natural material. Created only seven years after her first solo show in 1974, this work has a remarkable maturity and balance, achieved through a lifetime of looking at the landscape.

Piece to Walk Around is comprised of bundles of saffron thistle stalks arranged into 20 squares. These squares lay directly on the floor in a patchwork; one bundle running one way, then one another. The criss-cross formation recalls the undulating countryside, the ordering of agriculture and industry, and the mottled effects of light and shadow upon it. The work conveys a sense of the infinite expansiveness and liberation experienced in the country, as manifested through the grid, here understood as an open-ended structure to which additional bundles of thistles could be theoretically added or subtracted(1). An engagement with Minimalism’s sense of order and pre-occupation with the grid was a key element in Gascoigne’s work from the early 1980s, however her works reveal a sophisticated aesthetic – an almost Japanese mixture of formal composition and nature. It was this sense of ‘order with randomness’ which Gascoigne recognised as an essential feature of the Monaro-Canberra region, and which resonates in the ‘careful-careless’ effect of this assemblage(2).

In Piece to Walk Around the literal depiction of the environment is stripped back to its very essence and the work becomes a microcosm of the landscape itself. It is one of Gascoigne’s few mature pieces using not things from but rather things of the landscape and can be seen as a pivotal work in her transition from the previous dense assemblages, to the spare, flat, abstract wall pieces and installations that followed.

http://www.mca.com.au/collection/work/20117/