Hearth installation at the State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, 2013-2014
Hearth was commissioned to accompany the exhibition Born to Concrete which combined works of concrete poetry and word art from the collections of Heide Museum of Modern Art in Melbourne, the Queensland University Art Museum in Brisbane and the State Library of NSW in Sydney.
Artist Richard Tipping headlines Born to Concrete exhibition at NSW State Library
By Deborah Rice ABC News 12 Dec 2013
Born to Concrete is a free exhibition running until February 16, 2014.
The boundaries of literature are being pushed within the walls of one of Australia's most historic libraries.
The foyer of the State Library of NSW has been given a radical makeover by internationally renowned word artist Richard Tipping as part of a wider exhibition titled Born to Concrete.
Mr Tipping has applied his poetry to the Mitchell staircase quite literally, by sticking bright vinyl letters to the sweeping marble.
“The staircase has all kinds of resonance of proper learning, so I wanted to pop it up a bit and give it some zip, some zest”, he said as he was installing his piece, called HEARTH.
“HEARTH uses only the five letters H, E, A ,R, and T but when you place them next to each other you get words within words.
“So we look further into the piece, which will cascade down the grand staircase, it will create iterations that come from a word square: hearth, heart, earth, hear the art, and so on.”
It is a recalibration of a work that Mr Tipping has previously created in a circular format, including a large light display on Australia House in London and a work in brick that is 24 metres in diameter at Lake Macquarie on the NSW Central Coast.
“Word squares are magic, our passion for them goes back to ancient times and people have long been fascinated by things which seem to have some kind of inherent structural, almost molecular, qualities that are self-referential and yet potent in the mix of ideas that come from them,” he said.
The version of HEARTH on the Mitchell staircase can be read both horizontally and vertically.
“There is not a ready answer provided, you actually have to do some work and unthread the meanings, but in that process you become engaged and the meaning is really your own,” Mr Tipping said.
So it is literature? Or is it art?
It is a fusion of both, known as “concrete poetry” – not because of the material used, which varies widely, but because its meaning comes from both the sound of the words and how they are anchored in their physical dimension.
Concrete poetry is designed for the eyes and the ears.
“You know poetry is a very intense and, in a sense, lonely art,” Mr Tipping said.
“Poetry doesn't get so many chances to step out in public and this is one way of doing that.”
Visitors are invited to walk up Mr Tipping's poem to a playful and striking collection of works that illustrate the rise of concrete poetry in Australia, from its avant-garde beginnings in the 1960s.
Hearth, 2012. Artwork and photograph © Richard Tipping Porcelain tile, 60 x 60cm, engraved text finished with goldleaf. Edition of 3. 1/3 in collection of ArtBank, Sydney.
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