Marie Hagerty & Robert Foster

04.03.15 to 11.04.15


Marie Hagerty is a Canberra-based artist celebrated for her beguiling painted ‘collages’ which manipulate colour, form and light to explore the dichotomy between abstract and figurative, fiction and reality. She has exhibited nationally at GOMA Queensland Art Gallery, Ian Potter Museum, Wynne Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales, National Gallery of Victoria, RMIT University Gallery, and her work is held in various public and private collections. Robert Foster is an internationally acclaimed artist/designer and hollow-ware maker, and the founder of the production company F!NK & Co. Featuring colourful yet durable anodised aluminium pieces, his practice encompasses  lighting, furniture, accessories as well as signature vessels and teapots, and is held in major collections throughout Australia and USA.


How did the collaboration evolve?


Robert Foster: We have always shared a common interest in each other’s work since attending Canberra Art School together during the 80s. I respect Marie’s practice greatly and her constant searching for new forms of expression. A couple of years ago we had been discussing a large table centrepiece (bowl) that I had donated to CAPO (Canberra Arts Patrons Association). Six months later, I was seriously ill with a fever and in that state of delirium, experienced a subconscious vision of a table centrepiece akin to Marie’s paintings. I then called Marie – she was keen and here we are…


What was the most challenging aspect, and conversely, what has been most rewarding about the commissions?


RF: Probably the greatest challenge has been pruning the many ideas that evolved from the collaboration. The very nature of organic forms, as well as the involvement of two brains and the organic mode by which we develop ideas, entailed many potentialities that have needed to be distilled, which can give you an ‘itchy brain’. It has been a wonderfully liberating experience for us both. Marie has discovered new forms and materials and investigated ‘utilitarianism’; while I have enjoyed exploring sculptural considerations and facilitating new processes of making.


Marie Hagerty: For me, the most enjoyable aspect has been working with an internationally recognised designer (and friend) whose practice I admire immensely, as well realising the ‘fruits of our labours’ and living temporarily with these pieces. Most challenging would be working in tandem with someone, as my painting practice has hitherto been a relatively solitary experience in the studio.


Are the roles in such an undertaking clearly demarcated or is the whole process more fluid and symbiotic with both personalities influencing both design and production?


RF: Marie has been generally interested in creating new objects and functions for her imagery, but will also work to a lesser degree with developing ideas that are technical. We share a very similar aesthetic so sometimes the starting point is her drawings which we then explore together; other times, it is just Marie’s design and I facilitate most of the fabrication with little aesthetic input. Then on other occasions I have cultivated pieces using our shared aesthetic while deferring to Marie. It is a liberating experience for both of us and it has evolved in a fluid proliferation.


Marie, your paintings are renowned for their varied, idiosyncratic sources from both historical and contemporary art. What do you consider the salient influences in this recent work?


MH: We have pursued common aspects of our individual practices here – in the semiotic forms, use of colour, movement etc which blurs the boundaries of art and design, perhaps influenced by the Bauhaus philosophy of our art school training. We immediately noticed we have very similar sensibilities – for example, discussing how to reshape a curved line, we always saw the same need. Although we both enjoy working with organic forms that have a dynamic energy within three-dimensional space, Robert is arguably more from the landscape/nature tradition, while I am more figurative. There are also certainly echoes of Braque and Bacon as well, and from my own oeuvre, the salvers particularly draw inspiration from the ‘Monarch’ and ‘Plane Girl’ series of paintings.


The duality between space experienced and space perceived is fundamental to your painted oeuvre – how has this continued in your three-dimensional investigations?


MH: Whether mirror, salver or mobile, there is still an unsettling tension or ambivalence between 2D and 3D space, form and function. Like the ‘collage’ technique of my paintings, the sculptures employ a similar overlapping of shapes, colours and shadows to create that disorienting ‘push-pull’ conceptual effect. Obviously works of art, the objects nevertheless resemble a ‘functional’ form – acting like a dish, rather than a sculpture.