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Emma Fielden

Hours of Stars

March 15 - April 19, 2024

From a vast expanse of cosmic gas and dust, a star takes shape over millions of years, gradually  evolving into a colossal sphere ablaze with the energy of trillions of nuclear reactions at its core.  Held in form by gravity, the star becomes an integral part of its galactic environment, tethered  to other celestial bodies within its stellar community. Despite being hailed by Plato as "the  moving likeness of eternity," every star faces an inevitable fate: as its nuclear fuel dwindles, it  succumbs to its own gravitational pressure, culminating in a dramatic collapse. 

Emma Fielden's ‘Hours of Stars’ unfolds within Passage as an installation and performance that  transforms the gallery into a space for cosmic reflection where the terrestrial plane mirrors the  celestial. The installation, a meticulously arranged constellation of 108 hand-cast chalk rocks  suspended by linen thread against a void-like black canvas, evokes the star-studded embrace of  the night sky. This celestial assembly, floating at eye level, exists in a delicate balance, poised  between the potential for motion and the stillness of the void. 

The heart of Fielden's exhibition beats in the moment of transformation — a performative act  where the artist, as both creator and destroyer, severs the threads that tether the chalk rocks to  the heavens. This act, reminiscent of the cosmic phenomena that shape the universe,  precipitates a celestial downfall where each rock's shattering on the black paper below not only  marks an end but also the beginning of a new constellation. The remnants of this celestial  cascade, a dusting of bright chalk across the dark floor, map a stellar cartography born from  destruction, a poignant reminder of the cycle of creation and destruction that shapes all  existence. 

‘Hours of Stars’ echoes the cyclical nature of the cosmos, connecting to Fielden’s past works in  its exploration of materiality, time's passage, and the artist's dual role as creator and change  agent. The title is derived from Federico García Lorca's ‘Hours of Stars’ and embodies this  poetic dialogue with the universe, inviting contemplation of the invisible threads that connect  us to the vast expanse of the cosmos. The artwork stands as a metaphor for the human search for understanding and meaning in the face of the universe's incomprehensible vastness, beauty,  and its unpredictable, often harsh forces. 

In this space, where time seems suspended, Fielden challenges us to consider our place within  the cosmic order. The installation reflects on the transient nature of existence, where the  ephemeral glow of chalk rocks against a seemingly eternal darkness invites us to ponder the  delicate interplay between light and shadow, life and death. The aftermath of the performance  — limp threads, shattered rocks, patterns of chalk dust — becomes a visual requiem for the  stars, a testament to the enduring beauty and tragedy of the cosmos.

Video and Sound Design by Tom Compagnoni

Images photographed by Document Photography

About The Artist

Emma Fielden is a multidisciplinary Australian artist residing on Gadigal and Darkinjung land. Her practice traverses expanded drawing, performance, and sculptural installation, reflecting upon the nature of the universe and our human place in it. Julie Ewington eloquently describes Fielden's work: “Emma Fielden scopes the universe through thinking about it. She combs the history and philosophy of science, draws on recent developments in physics and astronomy, and delights in mathematical conundra. Eventually, though, this conceptual investigation comes back to humans in search of a place in creation." (Read Ewington’s piece on Fielden’s work here).

Fielden's artworks often engage in a dialogue between binaries—science and poetics, zero and infinity, self and other, silence and sound, seen and unseen. She explores these liminal spaces with a focus on materiality, viewing all matter as vibrant and interconnected. This philosophy informs her approach to materials such as stone, thread, metal, and ink, which hold histories and narratives, beckoning viewers to unearth layered meanings.

Having emerged from a background in classical music, contemporary jewellery and metalsmithing, Emma’s practice is built upon histories of performance, materiality, the body, and the breath. Her artworks balance detail and precision with organic spontaneity. They are conceived to engage viewers in a shared contemplation of being, prompting an intimate dialogue with life’s infinite and ephemeral nature. Each work is a crafted invitation to experience the subtleties of existence, to feel the pulse of the universe and resonant echoes of infinity within the self.

Fielden holds an Associate Diploma in Music Performance (1995) and an Advanced Diploma of Jewellery and Object Design (2006). Her work has been exhibited regularly since 2007. Recent solo exhibitions include ‘The Bells’ (2021, pop-up exhibition supported by Create NSW), ‘Coalescence’ (2021, Mosman Art Gallery) and ‘An Immeasurable Distance’ (2019, The Lock-Up). Recent group exhibitions include ‘The Unseen’ (2023, Blacktown Arts Centre), ‘Radical Slowness’ (2022, The Lock-Up), ‘Attending’ (2022, Latrobe Regional Gallery), ‘On Earth’ (2021, QUT Art Museum), and ‘To Have and To Hold’ (2019, Art Gallery of South Australia).

Emma has received awards, such as the Art Omi Australia Committee Fellowship (2018) and the Paramor Prize Mayoral Award (2017, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre). She has been a finalist for awards, including ‘National Works on Paper’ (2022, Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery) and the NSW Visual Arts Emerging Fellowship (2017, Artspace). She has received grants from the Australia Council, Create NSW and NAVA. She was a Parramatta Artists’ Studios (PAS) and PAS Rydalmere resident from 2016 to 2021. In 2018, she was awarded a fellowship to attend the prestigious Art Omi Artist’s Residency in New York.

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