Margarita SampsonInfectious Desires25th Feb - 14th March 2015 | Stanley Street Gallery

Margarita Sampson
Infectious Desires

25th Feb – 14th March 2015

‘The Salon of Infectious Desires’ is a series of sculptural works taking a domestic chair as a starting point, but proposing an alternate reality where each chair has become an eco-system, where the upholstery colonises and spreads, where organic forms are poised at a juncture between overwhelming their host, self-regulating or dying out. The textile forms are soft, coral-like, taken from the artist’s island upbringing, and meticulously hand-sewn over altered found chairs. Small growths detach and colonise the exhibition space…perhaps the ceiling, the entryway, a corner. Nearby, a table-setting bifurcates into itself, unusable cutlery growing exponentially.”

Pieces in this series have previously been finalists in the Wynne Prize 2013, the Willoughby Prize 2013, the Gold Coast Art Prize 2012 & section winner (Object) in Waterhouse Art Prize in 2012, however they have not previously been shown together. An expanded version of this exhibition is slated for a solo exhibition at Tamworth Regional Gallery in 2015.

The sculptural works are supported by a limited edition of giglee prints of the work in collaboration with photographer John McRae.

Limited edition of giglee prints of the work in collaboration with photographer John McRae.


' Human life to me has always been part of a rich and interconnected world, rising and falling, living and dying, interdependent:  the mouth of a flower is also my mouth, the surface of a prickly pear like testicles, soft anemone forms are our own soft tissues. Healthy and unhealthy. Reaching maturity and falling away. In my work allusions to multiple forms are drawn but not cemented: for me the power of the work comes from a rich soup of inferences which the viewer provides from their own experience.  I say “is this not unlike...” and you say “yes, but also...”.' The works bring up questions, invite narrative, suggest possible futures or any number of outcomes.

In the ‘Infectious Desires' series an imaginary literary salon is over-run by soft textile growths: chair forms warp and stagger, mutate and support colonies, a coral reef crawls over a broken love-seat. Competing colonies vie for space, crowd each other out, compromise, adjust.  In this other-world, tet-a-tetes become viral exchanges, ideas climb the wallpaper. Soft growths eat holes into upholstery. Further afield, small growths run up air-ducts, window frames, a person's collar (who leaves the space). Natural patterns are warped, the man-made crumbles under an invasive eco-system in flux. Built structures are warped, broken, reconfigured, re-imagined. ‘I see the paradigm that humans are presently living under as being unsustainable, the way we have managed over time to insulate ourselves from ‘the outside’…as if there is such a thing! There’s no ‘nature’ vs ‘us’!  Until we properly understand that, we’ll continue to treat everything around us as a resource, as something which can be exploited. The world is ourselves.” In this series, the invented dichotomies are brought into collision – the chaotic, organic, changeable, exterior ‘other’ comes to bear upon the ordered, the known, the interior, the safe.

This collision also becomes personal and body-centric – the works are suggestive, sexual, lascivious, disordered, discomforting, hairy, hiding/sporting satin orifices, budlike forms or penile extrusions which over-run the wooden chair-borders. Messy bodies overwhelm their constraints. The works invoke glamour, luxury & seduction with a disconcerting smack of the uncanny. ‘Glamour is the strict control of the body or the environment, sublimated to an ideal– there’s no body fluids or stains in glamour. It’s about boundaries, zones of comfort. We feel we are betrayed by our bodies- a lot of this work is about my own aging, my body, about death and disease, about fear and surrender, tightening and release.’

Margarita Sampson was raised on Norfolk Island, and the varied sea life made an indelible impression on her as a small child. As an adult, her sculptural and jewellery work draws upon this rich visual vocabulary. All works are meticulously hand-made by the artist, comprising of hand and machine sewn textiles. In the 'Infectious Desires' series the found furniture is sawn & altered,  re-carved & gilded before being overlaid with textile ‘landscapes’.

Click here to go to Margarita Sampson's Artist Page