Seeing humour in both life and art

Bethanga artist Marley Dawson associates his latest artwork, debuting at Hyphen – Wodonga Library Gallery, to a recent personal milestone – turning 40.

“There’s just enough momentum to not fall over, but too much to rest,” he said.

Big Wheel (at 40) was originally a Melbourne Art Fair commission that has been following Dawson for 10 years – never quite getting made.

The sculpture consists of a large wooden wheel that rotates, causing a smaller used car tyre to continuously roll in search of its balance point.

Dawson, who grew up in Albury, attending West Albury Public and Albury High schools, is excited to have an exhibition in his home community after exhibiting extensively across Australia and in the United States.

He moved to Bethanga in 2016, after five years living in Washington DC and Philadelphia.

Growing up, Dawson could often be found tinkering in his dad’s shed and creating in his mum’s sewing room.

After completing high school, he received a Bachelor of Visual Arts (2004) and Master of Fine Arts (2008) from Sydney College of the Arts.

Dawson uses unconventional engineering techniques to construct sculptures and installations that highlight the uncanny or surreal aspects of life and turn the mundane and dull into poetics and humour.

“A lot of the works are funny things to look at,” Dawson said.

“People who are first interested are children and then old men that tell me better ways to do things but everyone can take their own little thing out of it.”

Plateau presents works made over 15 years which have been shown in exhibitions and installations across Australia and the United States.

Visit Plateau to see how Dawson has turned Hyphen’s Artspace Gallery into a hall of wonder, populated with sculptural works that look like familiar utilitarian objects – such as furniture, motor vehicle parts, baseball bats, or miniature rockets – but are instead imaginary art constructs.

The works include a mix of kinetic and highly-visual pieces that touch on ideas as diverse as aerodynamic testing for military equipment, the aftermath of the Philadelphia Eagles’ 2018 Super Bowl win, how annoying it can be to get a painting to hang level and the impossibility of actually relaxing.

Plateau will be on display until August 21.

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