MAURICE LYE – Face Value – 12 Sept-6 Oct, 2023
Maurice Lye suspects we never really left the Stone Age. It is from the substance of Earth – our spinning rock, one of only four non-gaseous planets in our Solar System – that we mine what we need to fabricate what we desire. Even the very latest technology wouldn’t be possible without minerals hewn from ground.
The photographs in Lye’s new exhibition, Face Value, continue his decades-long fascination with salvaging and recording the overlooked and discarded. Each of the five objects he puts before us is a man-made remnant that mimics natural geology, an artificial conglomeration. He was initially attracted to each for aesthetic reasons: their colour, their kitchness, their chipped or rounded edges. Looking at them closely got him thinking about the stories of the stones. Natural stones tell us of geology, these ones speak to us of anthropology. Although not ancient, they already form part of the archaeological record.
The photographs in Face Value are monumental in scale and we are drawn into them bodily, we can immerse ourselves in minute detail blown large. His skill as a portrait photographer is apparent. Each stony lump comes across with strong individual character. Past the first flush of youth, they are knocked about by experience. Time has eroded these objects, just as it would any natural rock. Through Lye’s forensic examination we glimpse their backstory.
While making these works Lye reflected that we’ve come from living in caves – big holes in big rocks – to living and working in structures that are made from significant quantities of rocky constituents. Our ancestors collected stones based on how good they were for making tools or for surrounding a fire. Or because they glinted. For many of us, on spotting an attractive stone, to pick it up feels an instinctive response. Perhaps it’s a gut reaction to living on this ‘rocky’ planet and, in studying a recently found stone now in our palm, we intuitively acknowledge our roots.
This exhibition is dedicated to Helen
ARTIST TALK: Thurs 14 Sept, 12noon