If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is: Infinite. William Blake from ‘The Marriage of Heaven and Hell’
When I first met Patricia (Trish) Roan she was a first year student at the ANU School of Art glass workshop – shy, diminutive, sweet of nature, but with an unmistakable streak of unyielding determination. Stephen Procter would have loved her. For the term of her undergraduate years (4) her desk was nothing short of Darwinian – a literal laboratory of mysterious organic experimentation, not quite ‘eye of newt and toe of frog’ (never so dark), but certainly all manner of detritus in divers states of metamorphosis. And glass, of course, but nothing…conventional. She steadfastly resisted all attempts to steer her towards the ‘safety’ of the shallow end of the pool – commercial exhibition product – thank goodness, and as a consequence her art practice is uncompromisingly singular. And wonderous (in the true, non-hyperbolic sense of the word.) Roan graduated with first class honours at the end of last year – and remains shy, diminutive and sweet of nature, with that unyielding determination still firmly in place.
Her work is best described as intriguingly metaphysical, with scientific overtones softened by a pervasive sense of considered intimacy. There’s something faintly Victorian-Gothic about it, even – the very nature of the observation perhaps, the patience. And that eye for the beauty of oddity. She’s not particularly concerned with the ‘Big Picture’ as such, preferring instead to investigate the seemingly modest though no less fascinating ‘infinity of the interior’. It’s in the small things that the big picture is encapsulated, of course, and it is precisely this that makes the work so successful.
In The Eye Of A Fish, The Volume Of A Room, for instance, the small sphere of oil – which floats inside the sphere of water/alcohol, inside the sphere of glass – reflects the entire room. Attaining the balance is painstakingly difficult, a process of meticulous tweaking and tuning to achieve an equilibrium so fragile that it barely lasts a day before disintegrating. Ring on the other hand required a protracted wait for the natural evaporation of liquid from the bowl, the residue of pigment itself being an integral element of the piece. Pearl was ‘seeded’ by a found object, the nature of which was lost through consequent coverings (in this case wax rather than nacre.)
It is the ephemeral, the impossibility of keeping things perfect, and the contemplation of the reflected universal that specifically interests Roan. The process of making is meditative, she finds, regardless (or rather because) of the degrees of difficulty. Moreover it leaves her plenty of space and time to savour the ambiguities, and dream all those possible dreams.
Join a blog tour of her graduation show via the link below
Trish was recently a selected finalist in Young Glass 2007 held at the Glasmuseet Ebeltoft, in Denmark. (See Neues Glass/New Glass magazine, Summer 2007, 2/07)
Her work will also be featured in two upcoming exhibitions in Canberra:
The ANCA Members Show, ANCA Gallery, Dickson, opening 14th July, and a group show at Alliance Francaise, in O’Conner, with Ian Robertson and Cristina Baratinskas Goodman (as recipients of the ANU School of Art’s EEAS program), opening 16th August.
And she will be conducting workshops at the Canberra Glassworks: a four week casting class commencing July 11th (Wednesday evenings, 6-9pm), and two children’s classes during the school holidays, July 10-12th and July 17-19th (mornings from 9-12)