Heather B. Swann
Heather B. Swann currently lives and works in Melbourne. In 1993 she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours at the University of Tasmania and in 2003 she completed her Master of Fine Arts also at the University of Tasmania. Since her first solo exhibition in 1993 at Dick Bett Gallery, Hobart, Swann has held several major solo exhibitions around Australia.
Heather has received a number of important awards and commissions that include the prestigious Goddard Sapin-Jaloustre Scholarship, France in 2005 and the Rosamund McCulloch Scholarship, University of Tasmania, Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris, France (1998). Her work is held in the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Artbank, Dubbo Regional Gallery, Latrobe University, Melbourne and the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria.
Heather's work is at once figurative and abstract; its animal and human imagery expressed in refined, formal organisation and sensual curvature. Handsome, human-scaled and carefully-finished, her sculptures have a charm and luxuriousness that initially calls to mind the furniture-creatures of Francois-Xavier and Claude Lalanne. However, Swann's variously stretched, twisted and otherwise manipulated birds, beasts and bodies also have a darker quality; a dreamlike, shape-shifting ambiguity.
Swann's practice is informed by a strong ethic of making, of the hand, and she draws inspiration and example from the artisanal traditions of prehistoric, classical, medieval and folk art. In her sculptures there is a clear sense of cultural continuity, even of deja-vu, as the works' weirdness, eroticism, anger or whimsy adheres to the familiar forms of practical things: furniture, tools, utensils, vessels. More significantly, Swann's commitment to the material and technical disciplines of carving, modelling and tailoring produces sculptures which are original, singular, solid, irreducible 'things-in-the-world'. Previously unimagined, once made and seen they become an integral, unforgettable part of the visible, tangible universe.
General credit: Karen Woodbury Gallery, Melbourne.