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An Optical Instrument

In conversation with John Wardle 

Further conversations, essays and behind-the-scenes process captured in Somewhere Other by Uro Publications.

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"Somewhere Other", our installation at the Biennale Architettura 2018 in Venice initially developed toward a solid structure surrounding a series of portals. It was by our own admission, too building-like. The decision was made to disassemble the structure from its working parts and consider it as “an instrument” – much like a camera with its casing removed to express its working functions.

This instrument would require a final element – a lens. The lens would refer the gaze of those entering our instrument back in toward the Arsenale and its space in Venice. The portal does this by combining a series of elements. A chrome tube embedded within the wall of the instrument. That view is then translated through a large glass vial and via a small mirror attached to its end.

Our constant fascination with the process of making drew us toward the island of Murano, the world’s historical glass-blowing capital. We turned to artist and collaborator Rosslynd Piggott, who has worked with us on glass-based installations to help us navigate the community of Italian artists. Rosslynd connected us to Francesca Giubilei at Venice Art Factory. Francesca then undertook the curious task of finding a master glass blower with lungs substantial enough to blow this massive glass cylinder – Leonardo Cimolin was the artisan to undertake the project.

We are constantly fascinated with the links of process and craft in industry. The translation between Australia and Venice has been extended by this link toward processes made in a place with a long history of glass-making.

It was a learning experience for us with a few noble failures along the way as we attempted to push the limits of what is physically possible. We now have a good appreciation of the entire process of blowing glass. From the capacity of the lungs dictating the final volume, to the weight of the object itself once formed.


This vessel is transferred into the Arsenale, supported on a steel framework, crafted by Derek John a remarkable steel fabricator who constructed them in his workshop in Ballarat in rural Victoria.

This portal refers our gaze in two directions - forwards and backwards. It looks forward into the Arsenale and back to the genesis of the idea which was based around the spatial qualities of our tapestry ‘Perspectives on a Flat Surface’ and its deep orange hues.

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