Sculptor of $14m National Gallery work to exhibit in Mackay

Published: 28 Oct 2021

Lindy Lee has just been commissioned to create the National Gallery of Australia’s most expensive work – a $14 million, 13-tonne recycled metal sculpture called Ouroboros.

And, next week (from November 5), her exhibition, Moon in a Dew Drop is heading to Artspace Mackay.

Moon in a Dew Drop features sculptures and works in a much smaller scale, but Lee’s love for using metals and other diverse materials to create immersive works is evident throughout the exhibition.

Her flung bronze works for example are both intricate and meditative.

Lee said to create these works you need more than 1200°C of heat to create fluidity from solid bronze.

“Something that’s as hard as metal becomes fluid and malleable and unpredictable and mysterious in this fire – so I try to invoke that in the flinging of the bronze,” Lee said.

“I can’t control the shapes – I can just be attentive to what’s going to happen,” she said.

“Life becomes this glorious investigation and dance, rather than trying to control anything.

“It’s exhilarating and nerve-wracking because these ladles of molten metal can sear and possibly kill you if you are careless.

“I love the fact that they glow so fiercely in the beginning and then become cruddy and dull as they cool, and then as you polish them after they’ve cooled, they’re golden and take on that light again, that fire light.”

Artspace Mackay director Tracey Heathwood said in Moon in a Dew Drop, Lee used light, shadow and scale to mesmerise audiences.

“Lee melts bronze, pours ink, and burns paper and steel to examine ideas around art history, cultural authenticity, identity and our relationship to the cosmos,” Ms Heathwood said.

“This exhibition will introduce audiences to key works from across Lindy Lee’s extensive career, from early photocopy artworks to recent installations and sculptures,” she said.

Deputy Mayor Karen May said it was a coup for Mackay to be exhibiting the works of one of the most respected contemporary artists working in Australia today.

She said it was tremendous how Lee draws on her Australian and Chinese heritage to develop works that discuss cultural authenticity and personal identity.

“She was born in Brisbane in 1954 to parents who emigrated from China,” she said.

“And her works, which include painting, sculpture, installation and public art, are influenced by the philosophies of Daoism and Zen Buddhism.

"Many of them explore the connections between humanity and nature.

“It’s a great example of someone tapping into their diversity, philosophy and culture to create captivating works that are both thought-provoking and engaging to audiences.”

Moon in a Dew Drop is a Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) touring exhibition curated by MCA director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor OBE and supported by Associate Curator Megan Robson.

Also opening on Friday, November 5, is “Jonathan McBurnie: BIRDLAND” and “Jenna Lee: Cont.ained”.

Ms Heathwood said McBurnie was a north Queensland artist who combined art and violence, landscapes and characters into drawings, often featuring professional wrestlers.

“He is inspired by parallels he identifies between professional wrestlers and his own personal experience with the struggle of continuing a creative practice amid his ongoing recovery from serious illness,” Ms Heathwood said.

“Jenna Lee, on the other hand, is a previous Libris Artist’s Book Awards Tertiary Prize winner.

“Her research into ancestral cultural objects and archival practices is the inspiration for her paper-based sculptures and artist’s books.

“By pulping and weaving the pages of vintage books that shaped colonisers’ understandings of Indigenous cultures, Lee’s artist’s books challenge their inherent authority, and re-forms the pages into vessels, or containers, of new knowledge.”

For more information on any of the exhibitions, head to