Women in Art: The uncertainty of art and science

By Lauren Treiser This month’s artist in focus is object maker Catherine Truman. On entering her current exhibition at Gallery Funaki, one could mistake all her pieces as installations and small scale sculptures. Upon closer inspection, it is revealed that some of the work can in fact be worn as brooches.

Truman has exhibited nationally and internationally and is represented in a number of major collections. She is co-founder and current partner of Gray Street Workshop – a collectively run studio and access facility for artists working in the field of contemporary jewellery and object making in Adelaide, South Australia.

Some uncertain facts showcases Truman’s interest in the crossover between art and science. She has worked amongst scientists in research environments for many years and it is apparent where she shows off her maquettes as part of the process, just like a mathematician might show thier workings out to an equation. Truman is interested in what makes sense and what doesn't, in the crossover between natural and manmade environments. In this exhibition I found myself getting very close to the work trying to figure out what was natural and what was manufactured. With the foam objects, for instance, we can understand the crab claw but what is that other part? The artist reconfigures nature and makes her audience question it.

What she uses to formulate her work ends up forming a very big part of what she shows. The colours and textures and the feeling of certain materials blend into the finished work. A lot of the time you can’t really tell what is made of paper, what’s made of clay, or what is painstakingly carved from limewood. I think that the artist doesn’t feel it is important for the audience to know what is natural and what is found but rather to present objects that make you think.

Truman is interested in the human form and is qualified in the Feldenkrais Method of movement education where the aim is to reduce limitations in movement and improve physical function. Her focus on human anatomy and how it is translates through artistic processes has shifted in this exhibition to the anatomical structure of sea creatures. The resulting objects characteristically carved from wood, bone, shell or wax are not exact anatomical replicas but rather evoke a sense of recognition.

Having worked as an artist amongst scientists for years, Truman finds these two areas not so dissimilar. “We both agree that unknowing moves us forward and that there is an inherent level of risk and uncertainty in both. We both create images of the things we see and the more we see, the more we understand we don’t know. The images are a translation – a nuanced approximation.”

So no matter if you are a science or art lover, these objects are sure to appeal to you. I love the fact that you could potentially purchase a grouping and have it in your home as a sculptural piece, and then on a given occasion decide to wear one of the parts. Enjoy viewing this exhibition and the numerous draws full of intriguing jewellery at Gallery Funaki.

All images courtesy Gallery Funaki 

Catherine Truman: Some uncertain facts 13 November – 8 December Gallery Funaki 4 Crossley Street, Melbourne Tuesday – Friday 11am – 5pm Saturday 11am – 4pm

Lauren is graphic designer and founder of patchyrugs.com.au. She loves all things design (see her blog at blog.ilovelollies.net) and is particularly passionate about fine art, interior design and jewellery. Lauren is currently studying Gold & Silversmithing and doing graphic design on a freelance basis.