Korean artist Choi Jeong Hwa has installed a giant inflatable sculpture in the Sydney Botanic Gardens as part of the 2010 Biennale of Sydney. ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’ is a lurid, motorised lotus that rises and falls within one of the garden’s murky ponds. Alien in its colour and materials, the lotus reflects the artist’s belief that nature in Korea is rarely encountered, thus he explores the idea of it, rather than its actuality. In contrast to the lotus’s showy display, there are two permanent sculptures within the vicinity that offer a quite different take on nature.
‘Magnolia (seed)’ and ‘Palm’ by Australian sculptor Browyn Oliver were installed in the gardens in 2009. Situated adjacent to the site of the first farm in Sydney Cove, their organic shapes recall scattered seed forms. Despite being made out of copper, their seemingly delicate, webbed surfaces reflect nature’s transience and, of course, its beauty. Inevitably, these ideas are compounded when taking into account the artist’s untimely death in 2006.
Because Oliver’s sculptures are nestled discretely into natural surroundings, one of their most pleasing features is not readily apparent. In the right light, their intricate surfaces create entrancing shadows (like those cast by ‘Lotus’, above) that in themselves recall other organic forms.
While Jeong Hwa’s sculpture fits in with the spectacle of the Biennale, Oliver’s sculptures shine through with their elegant resoluteness. ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’ will be splashing about collecting pond slime (you’ll see) until August 1. Bronwyn Oliver’s sculptures are on permanent display, you can find them here.