10 Dec 2021 - 10 Jan 2021

Behind Closed Doors // art in a pandemic

Creativity is notoriously tricky to corral, let alone box up into a neat little package. It sprawls and infects the space around it, a heady virus; it teases, taunts and catcalls for attention, sylph-like in its entreaty. It is woven into our psyche, tangled through our emotional wellbeing, and, for some, it is what helps them get up every day.

What it does not do, is stop in the face of a global pandemic, neither does the rent on the spaces it inhabits.

Our last post detailed some of the creative endeavour happening behind the shuttered metal warehouse doors of the Inner West. Here we investigate a work in progress by the artists involved with one of Sydney’s longest running artist-run space, Tortuga Studios.

As a sequel to 2019’s roaringly impressive THE FIRE GARDEN, held at Sydenham Green on the final weekend of EDGE, Tortuga Studios is working on a new multi-disciplinary work for EDGE 2022.


Entitled GLITCH: a playground of the apocalypse, this work in progress will be showcased in August 2022, on the same site as THE FIRE GARDEN in the heart of Sydenham and beneath the low-slung bellies of jets.

“Weighted girders and riveted steel arc upwards into a night sky, organic shapes cast in rusted metal. Giant logs burn in iron cradles slung from the formwork branches of a skeletal tree; the crankshaft of a carousel creaks, its horses torn free; a clown careens off a rusted wreck, fear in her eyes; while a wrecking ball clangs on tethered chains.

It’s just not what you’d expect from a playground. As far from soft fall and plastic swings as a homecoming queen with a gun, this half-built kiddie corral is not for fun. An eerie playfulness hangs suspended in the air, a pall of excitement smeared across dark shadows. You almost feel as if you could climb aboard and go for a whirl, but only the most foolish dare…”

Conceptual proposal, Tortuga Studios

GLITCH is a playful commentary on how things feel in our current state of COVID limbo. There’s no show, no flutes of champagne or cheese plates… it’s a brilliant echoing void, with curator H Morgan-Harris adding:

“Part mockumentary, part painful reality, this is how it seems to some of us, a razed world with audiences scared to come close, or turned away at every new outbreak, organisers running for the hills. Channelling a vaguely occult vibe, as if Satan had lost his income and spent the last twelve months clinging to the wreckage of his industry, too, GLITCH is an exploration into the big questions that surround the creative culture of this city: can it survive? What is the cost of losing it? Is it still art if no-one comes to see it? Do clowns really cry?”

H Morgan-Harris

Featuring the work of countless industrial and multimedia artists, including Dillon MacEwan, Ran Stanton of ALIEN PROOF CONSTRUCTION, Paul Irving, Jasmine Poole + Christopher Sewell, Kris Perry, Circusworks, Icarus and more, GLITCH is born of the industrial spaces Tortuga and her artists inhabit. It explore kinetic sculptural works, how to mechanise industrial materials, the fabrication and customisation of less common raw products, used and recycled products, and the significance of the expertise within the creative scope of industrial installation art. The skill of the riveter, for example, is akin to that of a seamstress, while the strength and force of sheet metal can be undone in a moment with a ragged edge, a crumpled corner or lace-like holes threaded through it.

Perpetual Light Machine, Paul Irving

Watch this space for regular updates about this multifaceted work in progress, including artist interviews, behind-the-scenes scoops and a time-lapse of the work being created.

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