Many Gippslanders will be familiar with Suggetts Stunned Mullet which adorns the corner of Fish Creek Hotel, however few will be aware that Colin Suggett is Australias leading artist creating moving sculpture. Dancing hawaiian sausages, whitegoods that blow hot air levitating video monitor with clap sticks and tycoons breathing their last gasp, all with a direct comment on contemporary social and political reality.
Born in Warrnambool in 1945, Suggett’s work is derived directly from his childhood obsession of making things that move – cartoons, films, animations, motorised devices, puppets and billy carts.
Using the gamut of new materials and technology, the former film and media lecturer has created a theatrical and often humorous body of work based on his responses to prevailing social and political events. Audiences will be treated to a range of mechanically ingenious works that comment on the ‘trial and error’ nature of socio/political change in the latter quarter of the 20th century.
Fear of Flying is a reference to and a protest against the terrorist hijackings of the 1980s, Zit Wars arose from fear of President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, and The Oh No Zone was created at a time when global warming was mere speculation. Each work of art offers layer-upon-layer of meaning and a fascinating insight into life on planet earth in the past twenty-five years.
Issues of the day may occupy my thoughts for sometime without the intention to make art about them, he says. Related ideas and images can come as a flash, unsolicited and unexpected, in which I visualise a work in fairly complete form. Often the image will be a synthesis of a number of issues, but like many artists I find rationalisation of the work easier after it is completed.
Suggett, who lives in Venus Bay, initially intended to become a filmmaker. A lack of film schools in Australia in the early 1960s thwarted his ambitions, and as a result he went to art school. My approach is governed by my early interest in media, he says.
A desire to be accessible at the first level, with deeper ramifications becoming evident after further consideration.
Colin Suggett has donated the entire exhibition to the Latrobe Regional Gallery in Morwell, which has been collecting Colin’s work for the past 12 years.
Director of Latrobe Regional Gallery Rodney Scherer said ‘Colin’s work is very unique within the Australian sculpture arena. When we have Zit Wars or Hawaiian Sausages on display there is always a positive audience response.’ ‘Colin has a fantastic sense of humour and wit and to be able to offer humour, meaning and insight in a sculptural work indicates a great mind at work.’
RetroMOMENTS opens at Melbourne Museum on 21st September 2001 and is part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival. Entry is included in the general admission price at Melbourne Museum.