Graham Hay

Festivals, Events & Exhibitions

Critical Mass at the Venice Biennale

Ship, exhibit and then give away my sculpture made up of ceramic porcelain flutes to 10,000 people at the 2017 Venice Biennale, for them to drink Prosecco out of, all while promoting WA artists to an international audience.

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Support me to accept an invitation to exhibit my sculpture at the 2017 Venice Biennale, to benefit all WA artists. I have been invited to exhibit in the Personal Structures exhibition at the Venice Biennale; the largest, oldest and most prestigious global art event, at an exhibition organised by the non-profit GAA Foundation and hosted by the European Culture Centre.

With artists from 89 countries and 500,000 visitors, this Biennale attracts the very best and influential international curators, collectors, critics, and other cultural brokers. I will use this opportunity to build bridges between these cultural brokers and geographically remote WA.

Before the 10,000 people attending the Previews and Opening (11-13 May) I will partially dismantle the sculpture. Up to 3,000 of the flutes will be taken from the sculpture and given out to the audience to drink Prosecco.

Unlike at most exhibitions with “don’t touch” signs, they will feel the actual sculpture with their hands and lips. Over 2,000 wine flutes go missing at past Biennales, so it’s likely these porcelain flutes will be taken away as souvenirs. The handmade flutes will settle in offices, kitchens and book shelves around the world. On each flute is printed the web or social media address of a WA artist. By using these addresses, the cultural brokers will see and connect, creating lotteries of opportunity for WA artists.

Those who know me, know I am a very independent person. However this one in a lifetime opportunity has come with a very short deadline and the inclusive idea has become too big to be done on my own.

To create a circle of figures from ceramic porcelain flutes, large enough that it can have 3,000 parts removed and still stand, requires a large sculpture: 2.5m high, with a 2m diameter.

To ship this half tonne of ceramics and steel to and from Venice, with the last section on a barge to the venue, is hugely expensive.

While the exhibition organiser, the nonprofit GAA Foundation, has sponsors, it is insufficient to cover the total cost of presenting an exhibition to over 300,000 people, hosting a three day function for 10,000 people, in Venice. All artists contribute together to cover the difference.

I will travel to Venice a few days before to assemble the sculpture, then carefully dissemble it during the previews and opening functions, distributing and explaining the work to the 10,000 audience.

I will also video and photo document this high profile event, using this to distribute news and the story of the work globally via social media, the web and journals, amplifying its global impact.

As well as contributing all of my own funds to make this happen, I have applied for Federal and State grants.

As this is still insufficient, I would be absolutely grateful for any support you can provide, either by donation and/or encouraging others to donate. Even a little you can spare would spread the load, and enable this to not only happen, but put WA on the map.

Live Projects

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Graham Hay is a Western Australian artist.

For over two decades his independent artistic practice has investigated, engaged with, and illustrated the social foundations of the arts. Rather than speculate on what art is, it is a critical ethnography approach, built upon tertiary training and 20 years of independent artistic practice.

His signature style is tall, exquisitely delicate sculptures made from thousands of ceramic paperclay parts. He is also known for a temporary 4 tonne spiral of paper in the foyer of the High Court in Canberra, and the towering faces made from thousands of ceramic iPhones at the 2015 Cottesloe Sculpture by the Sea.

On a shoestring budget, Hay has quietly building a reputation as a talented expert in the emerging medium of paperclay: leading international conferences and exhibiting in a dozen countries. Over the last five years he has been invited to exhibit in five smaller international biennale, winning the ceramic prize at a Biennial, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2016.

Graham is known and respected within the local WA arts community. For over two decade he has generously shared his experiences and discoveries via 200 pages of free information on his website. He is the unpaid coordinator of the Robertson Park Artists Studio in Northbridge, mentors emerging artists within the studio and his studio classes. He quietly supports arts students within the nearby Paper Mountain, and has contributed to the ECU alumni mentoring program.

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