'My work has always been about translation, passing a subject though various processes on the way to a fixed or permanent state, with each different material influencing the creation of new forms'.
Ricky Swallow, 2011
Ricky Swallow's 'Stair with contents' 2013 is a taxonomy of utensils and instruments presented on a set of four steps. These proportionally scaled yet abstracted objects include drinking vessels, a smoking pipe, a cruciform, the body of a guitar, piping and fans, among other curious structures. Swallow has drawn inspiration from forms of 'collective ownership' and the 'economy' of American folk art and 'make-dos' - items he has found on display in flea markets and antique fairs that have been reimagined and transformed to extend their use. They have associations with daily use and the body, but also 'bootleg' various styles of modern art, design and architecture, notably motifs synonymous with Pablo Picasso, Man Ray and Rene Magritte.
'Stair with contents' began life as a model fabricated from cardboard bits and pieces, which was then cast in bronze at the foundry the artist nicknames the 'Swallow's Nest'. The sculpture has inherited the flimsiness and imperfect charm of the mould which is contradicted by its monumental presence and metallic grey patina.
Swallow explains of these 'object studies' that 'the material change from cardboard to bronze seems like a way to finalize the form without losing its studio-built logic'.
1 AP + 1/1
55.9 x 88.9 x 55.9 cm
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Contemporary Collection Benefactors 2015
Not on display
© Ricky Swallow. Courtesy Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney
Shown in 2 exhibitions
Referenced in 5 publications
Stuart Comer, Anthony Elms and Michelle Grabner (Curators), Whitney Biennial 2014, 'Ricky Swallow speaks with Matt Connors', pg. 388-389, New York, 2014, 388-389. general reference
Xenia Hanusiak., www.abc.net.au/arts, 'Australian artists play with American emblems at the Whitney Biennial', Australia, 01 Apr 2014, n.pag.. incorrectly titled 'Stairs with contents'; viewed 26.01.2015, http://www.abc.net.au/arts/blog/arts-desk/Ricky-Swallow-Jeff-Gibson-play-with-Whitney-Biennale-140311/default.htm
Michael Ned Holte, Ricky Swallow: bronzes, 'Cardboard age', pg. 3-6, Sydney, 2013, 3-6. general reference
Leah Ollman, Art in America, 'Ricky Swallow in the studio', pg. 148-157, New York, May 2014, 151 (colour illus.). interview with the artist