Jill Stevenson 
 Oct 26 - Nov 05, 2023



"SHELL explores a fascination with material. Holding a particular shell from the beach; it’s chalky and fragmented form eroded by water with grains of sand wedged into what appear as stacked, paper thin layers. Layers and layers move up and out, or in and around. Structure created by something, of something, but how.

Slowly and softly, the mollusc that lives within a shell pulls and synthesises matter and material from it’s immediate environment. Layer by layer this material is deposited to create strength in an ever evolving form; each structure a distinct expression of what it absorbs, and how the creature within shapes it. Formed from calcium carbonate, abundant in the ocean, it is processed by the mollusc along with other proteins and organic compounds from it’s surrounds. A tongue like protrusion of the mollusc wraps itself around the edge of it’s soft body and deposits this matter, creating layers and layers over time.

Slurping, siphoning, consuming, assuming form.
In search of understanding and applying the principles of shell formation to a new material many observations were made, and questions unfolded. While molluscs naturally create structures as shelter, intrinsic to and crucial to their being, why should we use this principle to create structure and material, and what for… for pleasure, for use, for utility, temporarily, indefinitely.

Cellulose, is the most abundant compound in our environment. In this exploration it acts as a base and carrier, in a refined form, highly viscous and gooey for ground up matter found and foraged, from friends, projects past, the neighbourhood, to be ground, combined and cast and formed into another material.

Morphing and shaping this material with agency and freedom, the seemingly most literal translation was to cast thin layers over a glass plate, playing with the thickness and concentration of crushed material, and how changing these variables could create inherent strength. Once dry, and peeled off, alone each layer is a delicate and fragile veil. As layers are left undisturbed on the glass sheet and built upon over time the material becomes strong and rigid. Alongside the cast sheet works are sculptural works which use the layered material to explore three dimensional form. In each, a different principle of shell formation is used to create form, and with the soft and slow application of more and more cellulose, wetting the layer before, each becomes stronger as it is allowed to move and reform into an organic shape.

The key principles observed and absorbed into the creation of this new material include layering, and siphoning material from the immediate environment, and then slowly applying it over time. The three-dimensional forms follow the principle of ‘addition at the margin’, and embraces emphasising inconsistencies within the continual layers undisturbed.

The show is an immersive presentation of this research and process articulated in form, beginning in the lab in the front and walking through to the second room are a display of sculptural forms driven by different methods of adding and building the created material. The forms successively morph from these experimental forms, then to hanging artworks. Large hanging cellulose sheet works adorned with aluminium componentry frame and pose the material as the archetypal painting or hanging work, directing value. "


Photography by;
Annika Kafcaloudis