By Sui Jackson
Arts Lounge > 6 April – 27 May 2018
Opening night | 5:30pm Friday 6 April 2018
Trees symbolise not only strength but solitude, age, diversity and individuality. A tree stands alone, but can also be part of a forest. This resonated with artist Sui Jackson – he is fundamentally alone, but has a genus and species; he is male, Australian, speaks English and has a shared set of cultural values. He is unexceptional locally, but he stands out when he travels, which he both revels in and loathes.
This body of work was created during Jackson’s Asialink residency in Japan. He went during blossom season because he wanted to participate in viewing and engage with others in the magnificent display of Japanese plants and culture. At festivals and tourist destinations, he was an individual in a crowd of people. But something as simple as a shared smile of understanding and companionship with fellow viewers became a shared language, and suddenly he felt less alone. This isolated pine was revealed to be standing in a forest of similar feelings of excitement and joy at the change of season.
The glass blossom trees take us through the changes a few short weeks make to the landscape. Spanning from bare winter to brilliant and vibrant flowers, pursued by bursting foliage, which gives way to a canopy of green leaves, differently arranged from last year, but still understandably the same. Using a mould blowing technique he is able to copy this ‘unique conformity’. Jackson is enforcing form but each time the pattern will be subtly different – the glass will move and stretch in ways he can’t anticipate, the colour will shift and blend, and the thickness won’t always be the same. The final trees are of a similar type but unique in the group.
It is this symbol and duality of modern mass manufacturing and individuality that fascinates Jackson. We love the same objects and things, and desire conformity of community, but inside we all want to be unique flowering Sakura (blossom) trees. There is a tension between our desires for the easy perfection available in mass-production and the need to show our individual character. We buy the latest device but it is only complete when it has been personalised. Nature has already perfected this art. When you plant a tree you know its appearance, its outline, leaf and blossom. But every tree will grow differently. It is a common object with a singular beauty. These glass trees are mould blown to reflect the form of a tree, whilst the pattern and colour application give them a distinct character. Each piece is a unique entity within a forest of similarity.