The inaugural winner of ACE Open’s Porter Street commission, Bridget Currie debuts her solo exhibition, Message from the meadow, at ACE Open this week.
How ACE Open gave voice to Bridget Currie’s message
Bridget Currie’s upcoming ACE Open exhibition Message from the meadow has been a long time coming for the artist.
“It’s a consolidation of probably five or six-years’ worth of ideas, all brought together in a major show,” Bridget tells CityMag.
“I’ve been working with mysterious, abstract small sculptures and ideas about scale and presence.”
The exhibition explores the entwining relationship between art – presented in the forms of sculptures, furniture, film and sound – and sensory reception.
Through sculpture, furniture, film and sound, she brings invisible, intangible things, like beliefs, emotions and dreams, into the material world.
Bespoke furniture, fashioned by designer Dean Toepfer, will be arranged throughout the exhibition, and meditation audio guides will accompany guests as they experience the exhibition.
“I hope visitors find a calm space where they can spend some time and just be,” Bridget says
“It might be sitting with objects and having thoughts that are beyond the rational mind. There’s no argument or didactic parts of my work, it’s all about just having an experience.”
A focal point within the space will be a small section of the gallery skirted by a white velvet curtain descending from the roof, within which Bridget’s new film, soft insides, will premiere.
Viewers will be seated on plush, sheepskin-draped benches to watch the non-linear, dialogue-less documentation of pre-language encounters.
“The film features long lingering shots, like a slow-moving snail or a baby suckling a breast. It centres around pre-verbal knowledge and I think it’ll be a real standout of the exhibition,” says ACE Open artistic director Patrice Sharkey.
Message from the meadow is the inaugural outcome of ACE Open’s Porter Street Commission, a $20,000 art prize made possible by the Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia’s (CACSA) sale of its Porter Street property.
ACE Open was founded when CACSA merged with the Australian Experimental Art Foundation.
“We’ve initiated this Porter Street Commission series because we saw an opportunity for a new work commission to be a part of the exhibition program,” Patrice explains.
“This fund was set up expressly to support SA artists, so this commission series is supported by that fund which sits in perpetuity with a portion of the funds released each year in the form of the $20,000 grant.
“Twenty thousand dollars is a significant amount of money to put into new work, and sometimes being able to raise this sort of funding level, particularly in the small to medium grassroots sector, is really difficult to do yourself, so it’s great to be able to support an art practitioner in this way.”
Applications for the 2022 Porter Street Commission are open now.
Bridget says it’s because of the Porter Street Commission’s generous sum she was able bring her years-long ideas to life in the form of Message from the meadow.
“It’s been amazing having such a big production budget to work with. It’s given me this substantial pool of money to just let me go, ‘Okay, I’m going to make an exhibition that’s really ambitious’,” Bridget says.
“The money really encourages this ambition, to create something on a large scale and allow artists to realise their big ideas.”
Patrice says awarding Bridget was a simple decision, given the respect she’s attaining in the industry and the quality of her pitch.
“Bridget’s application was a standout, and we felt she was perfect to be the inaugural recipient,” Patrice says.
“She’s been in the arts community for a while, both here in Australia and overseas. She’s very well-loved by the community, so it’s great to see someone apply who had this level of relationship and identity among the arts community in SA.
“She’s a very poetic, and her work is very evocative and intuitive. Her craftswomanship and technical gift was very evident in her application, but the strongest element of Bridget’s exhibition is the sensorial charge.
“She’s tapping into things like ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) and audio guides to explore auditory senses, varying materials to sit on and touch, and obviously exploring lots of visual prompts too, but through the lens of physical distance, so it’s very timely and relatable due to the pandemic and what it’s meant for our perception of physical distance.”
The harmonious blend of abstract, contemporary art with easily relatable and timely elements drew the commission’s panel to Bridget’s exhibition.
“The ideas of health and mindfulness are also explored through audio meditation guides, so again there are some very timely features in the exhibition with things like mindfulness a prominent trend today,” Patrice says.
“Ultimately, we’re thrilled to be working with Bridget on such an ambitious scale. Message from the meadow exemplifies how the Porter Street Commission can amplify contemporary art and artists in South Australia.”
Message from the meadow is part of the 2021 SALA Festival and will be accompanied by a series of public program events, including opening night on Friday, 16 July; an Artist Talk; and a Tactile Tour and Guided Meditation event led by Currie.
More information around the public program will be released soon.
The exhibition is free and will run from 16 July to 4 September at ACE Open, located within the Lion Arts Centre on North Terrace.