Emily Floyd: The Dawn

Steiner rainbow 2006Featuring bold, colourful sculptures and installations, Emily Floyd: The Dawn is a survey exhibition of selected works from Floyd’s remarkable fifteen year career currently on display until 1 March 2015 at NGV Australia.

Emily Floyd is renowned for her text-based and modernist-inspired sculptures, including Public art strategy, 2008, the house-sized black bird pecking its prey along the EastLink freeway.

The exhibition traces her career and will feature some of her earliest sculptures as well as several new works commissioned for the exhibition, such as a colourful, temporary library where visitors can relax and read texts that have inspired Floyd’s creations.

“Emily Floyd’s text-based sculptures and pedagogically inspired works stimulate debate about various social, cultural and political ideas and explore intersections between art, education and play,” said Tony Ellwood, Director, NGV. “Emily Floyd is one of Australia’s most exciting artists and her work will no doubt delight visitors of NGV Australia over summer.”

Floyd’s sculptures playfully experiment with shape, colour and text to engage the viewer and prompt discussions about cultural, social and political ideas. The upcoming exhibition takes its title from The Dawn: A Journal for Australian Women, a women’s newspaper established in Sydney in 1888 by the poet, suffragette and enterprising businesswoman Louisa Lawson, mother of Henry Lawson.

Floyd also lends the title The Dawn to a new work commissioned by the NGV especially for the forthcoming exhibition. In this interactive part-sculpture, part-library, large brightly coloured circular seating and shelves create a convivial environment for visitors to rest in and explore a vast array of texts sourced from Melbourne’s Victorian Trades Hall bookstore. Like its historical namesake, The Dawn, 2014, encapsulates Floyd’s multiple interests in community, feminism, activism, the printed word, open access and public art.

Also commissioned for Emily Floyd: The Dawn is a remarkable new suite of large-scale screenprints, Solve your personal problems socially, 2014. Reflecting Floyd’s interest in archives and local histories of social activism, the prints are based on manifestos from an archive established by the late activist Ruth Crow, who during her fifty years as a political and social activist, developed an archive and donated it to Victoria University in 1990.

Two works for children have also been specially created for the exhibition, including Small Press, 2014, a dedicated educational program where children are invited to make and publish their own ‘manifesto’ using stamps, typewriters, photocopiers and paper.

In addition, Word Farm, 2014, is a tactile installation of individual sculptural letters for children to arrange and play with in an exploratory way, echoing the strategies of many of Floyd’s earlier text-based works. This project is in collaboration with the distinguished furniture designer and educator Mary Featherston and provides a social space for families.

Emily Floyd: The Dawn is the result of a close collaboration between the artist and Jane Devery, Curator of Contemporary Art, NGV.

Image: Emily Floyd, born Australia 1972 Steiner rainbow 2006 epoxy paint on composition board (a-i) 181.0 x 361.0 x 180.0 cm (variable) (installation) Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane. Gift of the artist through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation 2011. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program. © Emily Floyd, courtesy Anna Schwartz Gallery

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