Warped Walls

Ruth Hingston

Hill End

As an artist in residence during a Hill End summer, I noticed the tourists peering into the tiny window panes of the buildings as they wandered around the town site. I too peered curiously into the tiny windows of thick dusty glass and wondered—what were tourists hoping to see? Was it to catch a glimpse of Hill End’s golden era, or perhaps find a sign of a more romantic state of living?

For me, windows are the interface of the imagination. They are the screen, or the intersection, between past and future, myth and reality, interior and exterior. The residents look out to reaffirm their place in life, history and the future. The visitors look in to catch a glimpse of an imagined golden era, perhaps seeking some visible sign of a more romantic state of living. The windows enable both viewers to negotiate the Other—physically, historically, mythically—locating themselves in an interior or exterior space as they encounter the placement of the window in a wall.

As an outsider, being an insider for a brief allocation of time allowed me to step in and out of the myth and the history. This gave me a unique opportunity to explore and consider both viewpoints.

Look Inside (detail)
Warped Window (detail)

The work

From these observations I constructed a series of modular pieces that were influenced by a selection of architectural features. These features were used as symbols for regular and domestic continuity, while exploiting the physical character of the aging structures in their warp, twist and angles as irregular, charming, yet disconcerting by an appearance of instability. The works are based on

These works explore shapes, forms, planes, textures and colours in a three-dimensional format. They are constructed from cardboard, papers and fabrics that are painted, glued, drawn on and stitched, forming low relief sculptural pieces. I refer to these works as warped canvases because they are the usual rectangular shape of a canvas, but have a distinctive warping of the surface of the conventional picture plane. Other pieces take on a distinctive architectural silhouette, for example a chimney. Specific openings and details such as windows, doors, or niches are inserted into the exterior surface.