Artefacts of the Future

Jen Bowmast, Artefacts of the Future, 2018, clay, copper, metal, paint, plastic, 1300 x 650 x 650 mm, The National, Christchurch

Review by Warren Feeney, Christchurch Press

Review by Priscilla Howe for Hamster 4 – An Aotearoa anthology review

Artefacts of the Future by Jen Bowmast

Making art is a beguiling proposition. The artist’s intent is seemingly just one of many ingredients in a series of chemical reactions to create an artwork. Once operating independently the work must have agency of its own, be self-sustaining and have close relationships with others. This project casts a new space for my practice. A place where the esoteric is evidenced everyday, the poetic transcends mundanity and the abstract triumphs over the figurative.

A felt world of unseen presences, inaudible messages, and omniscient guidance is a curious notion. There are those amongst us offering themselves as conduits to glimpse behind the veil. My encounters with psychics, clairvoyants, soothsayers, and oracles have offered fruitful ground for art making. I am using these ancient tools to aid my metaphysical navigation. The research ultimately transformed my position from querent, to participant, to mystic. Learning to walk in the dark.

Sometimes my sage and ritualistic encounters were immediate catalysts for making. Other times objects materialised from layers of conversation with shapes and lives all of their own. My sculptural investigations into purity of form were transcended by an embodiment of spirit. Staring back at me, emanating a question rather than an answer, self-propelled divinatory alternators.

Ruminating on the invisible and intangible was futile. Truth hunting was dead. Incantation has drawn from materials both physical and arcane. The listening clay with its willingness to be transformed, bronze with its sculptural heritage and the scrying reflective light of perspex. The blackest black travelled in sacred vials from far off lands. Clandestine conversations dancing with the time stream. Other makers hands raising the frequency. Yes, chasing the divine through materiality.

Scholarly efforts ‘to know’ have led me to unexpected comfort with ‘not knowing’. I ask my materials what they can do for me. If I intuitively feel clay forming a circle, I don’t break it, but rather follow its lead. This ‘conversation’  allows the process to make the work. A primal language where hands connect. 

Artefacts of the Future, is the latest in an ongoing series of work, began with a reading from Ōtautahi medium, Jayne. This message was about the moment where light and dark exchange, the black nothingness and all that is. The clay objects embody both the idea of the described space and the gallery. Fired with nano particles never to be touched by hands, slipping between two worlds, here and somewhere else. Light coming from the dark. This is the all that is.  JB

Floor talk 10 am Wednesday 11th April  Join Dr Barbara Garrie (Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Art | HoD Art History and Theory, Canterbury University) and artist Jen Bowmast as they discuss Jen’s exhibition Artefacts of the Future . Floor talk followed by private readings with Ōtautahi medium, Jayne Rewa.