‘March was a long year’, has been a common joke floating around social media lately. In these interesting times, we are all experiencing the compression and expansion of time in unnerving ways. Similarly, time split between the secluded Gudgenby Valley and the Mt Stromlo Observatory led contemporary silversmith Sean Booth to reflect on the concept of time: ‘a thousand years was a mere blip when discussing the millions of years that has passed when observing light from deep space, or how long the sun has been burning or the time it would take to reach our nearest galaxy.’
Responding to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, Booth has created work rooted in the language of aspiration, expressing his own 'desire to be released from the bounds of earth, to fly with and beyond the birds' for his 2019 artist residency at Gudgenby Ready-Cut Cottage, for Craft ACT: Craft + Design Centre.
The stillness, solitude and space offered by Ready-Cut Cottage in Namadgi National Park is mirrored in Booth’s work in the new online exhibition Terra Celestial. Booth deals with the complexities of time, perception of distance and the effects of light in a characteristically balanced and structured way. Playfully exploring distortion and illusion through his geometric style, Booth reminds us in Terra Celestial that simple is not always easy. His new work inspires us to appreciate the vastness and grandeur of what we cannot see.
Booth reflects that “our moon has an enduring influence on our planet, affecting the environment and fuelling myth and stories for generations.” He draws from the iconography of the moon itself to push his own practice into new terrain. Incorporating modern manufacturing processes alongside traditional hammer-forming techniques, Booth distorts time. Through this sought-after residency experience away from the demands of everyday life, Booth propels his artistic practice forward to consider the future possibilities of human endeavour on earth and beyond.
Alongside the other artists in Terra Celestial, Sean Booth reminds us of the crucial role for craft and design in the future of human imagination. He also reminds us that we all need some space for thought.
The acclaimed Craft ACT artist-in-residence program is presented annually in partnership with ACT Parks and Conservation Service. The 2019 research partner was the Australian National University Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
Although visitors cannot physically visit the gallery, the exhibition can be enjoyed online on the Craft ACT website and social media platforms. A beautiful online catalogue features essays, artist reflections and biographies, photographs and a complete list of works. Most of the works in the exhibition are available for purchase, and artist interviews and video tours simulate the gallery experience.
Terra Celestial is now showing online at craftact.org.au
Image: Sean Booth, Tale of Tape, 2020. Photo: courtesy of the artist.