Handheld is an exhibition built to travel. Commissioned by Country Arts SA, the four pieces have been designed to fit inside a suitcase to enable easy transportation. Each of the artists, Nic Brown, Brad Lay, Lilly Buttrose and Cathy Sarles, were asked to respond to and explore ideas of home, travel and place and they have all chosen to do so in unique and varied ways. Brown has gone back to her family home, a farm near Naracoorte, and documented this journey and the sense of place it now invokes for her.
Drawing on the natural environment around both their homes and further afield, Sarles and Buttrose are collectors, picking up bits of the environment and then using them to colour their artworks. But, despite their similarities, they each approach home from a different aspect, and ask their audiences to participate in their work, building their own ideas of home. Lay chooses to turn his attention off-shore, reminding us of our relationship with the ocean, be it a close one borne out of the intimate knowledge that life along the coast can bring, or a distant memory of a place once visited while on holiday.
These artworks ask audiences and gallery staff to participate in their installation. There are decisions that have had to be made at each venue, beyond the usual ‘what do I hang next to this?’ In every place these works travel they will look a little different, worked on by members of the gallery team. These slight variations, decisions borne out of creative flair or necessity, will ensure that the exhibition is unique to its current place, each gallery leaving its own stamp on the works of art.