Shaun Hayes

Shaun Hayes investigates the relationship between throwaway objects and their ability to invoke memories in his new show at Stanley Street Gallery. Crafting ceramic forms that reference the rich cultural history of the medium, Hayes embeds them with materialistic detritus to present a nostalgic and humorous representation of time and place.

Hayes juxtaposes the perceived permanence of his ancient-looking vessels with the commercial plastic miscellanea adorning them – everyday disposable objects that will in fact outlive us all. The artist first makes plaster molds of found objects, then by using slip casting and sculpting methods he transforms the original medium into clay. Fusing the aesthetics of traditional ceramic vessels with familiar commonplace items, his works bring together past and present whilst forging dialogues between the materiality of plastic and ceramic.

During trips to Jingdezhen, China, in 2011 and 2013, Hayes was exposed to traditional ceramic techniques and modern methods of production, which inspired the conceptual framework of his current practice. ‘I became interested in the visual dynamic between the unchanging permanence of traditional wares and the seeming impermanence of mass-produced miscellanea that creates simultaneous unease and harmony.’ As well as referencing Chinese pottery, the works in his latest series ‘I Guess This Is Growing Up’ are influenced by Greco-Roman aesthetics which, combined with consumerist paraphernalia, symptomises our globalised world. The artist reflects, ‘these combinations speak of a modern global condition whereby traditional and historic customs are replaced and often continue alongside modern innovations and new ways of living.’

Each piece has its own sense of humour about what is adorning it. Ceramic toothbrushes, office supplies, single-use bottles, lighters, toy guns and cigarette butts are some of the objects arranged systematically to form bizarre but beautiful patterns. These compositions,  and the use of repetition, serves as a reminder of our daily waste and the enduring impact it has on the environment. Hayes is also interested in probing what these objects mean to the viewer personally, the ability of throwaway objects to ignite memory and transport the us back in time. ‘I Guess This Is Growing Up’ is a contemplation of the evocative power of seemingly meaningless objects, and the weight they can actually hold.

Shaun Hayes: I Guess This Is Growing Up
18 September – 5 October 2019
Stanley St Gallery, Sydney

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