Holding Patterns



9 JUL – 29 OCT 2020

In a period of uncertainty and stasis, artists have demonstrated the capacity of human creativity through artistic innovation, lateral thought, and inspired action. In our current period of changes and shifts, 4A is pleased to invite you to engage with Holding Patterns, a series of four solo exhibitions on view from July to October. These exhibitions highlight and support the works of Sydney-based artists Kien Situ, Crossing Threads®, Shireen Taweel and Sofiyah Ruqayah, utilising our ground-floor gallery space and windows out onto Haymarket’s streets.

Referring to the aeronautical manoeuvre of an airplane forced to delay its landing procedure to avoid potential disaster, a holding pattern suggests divergence from an established routine and the suspension of normalcy. Crucially, it is an action of adaptability: a pilot executing specific turns whilst accounting for wind speed and direction to establish its course. The pattern achieves seemingly limitless flight, looping until given permission to commence its landing operations, once again returning to earth and reality. It is in this moment of suspension that we find ourselves undertaking our own rituals of contemplation, addressing our own pathways forward in a time of stillness.

For the exhibiting artists COVID-19 has been an unexpected intervention, a force majeure. Forced out of their routines, artists have now been given opportunities to reflect on what it means to be creatively-engaged during a time of crisis. Contemplating artistic practice with the arts industry shut down, Holding Patterns demonstrates the resilience and ingenuity of artists during this time.. Some have taken time to rest and recharge, quietly laying projects to rest to make way for new ideas, while others have pivoted to hone their craft. 

Through textiles, sculptures, metallurgy, drawing and painting, the artists of Holding Patterns deftly navigate cultural histories, identities, object permanence and transmutation through process-based practice. As the first exhibiting artist, Kien Situ creates architecturally-informed sculptures of domestic and sacred objects and furniture rendered with obscurity in form, function and material. The complex ‘interknot’ technique of Crossing Threads® embraces compositional tension and release in the contrasting tones and textures of their lyrical, abstracted pieces. Shireen Taweel modernises the traditional art of copper-smithing to create pieces that blur the line between jewellery and sculpture, opening dialogues of shared histories and relationships between communities of fluid identities. Sofiyah Ruqayah’s indeterminate forms draw upon mutations of human and non-human realities, generating connections between tangible bodies and aetheric dreams and spirit worlds informed by cultural myths of embodiment.

Fusing together their own creative impulses within traditional methods, these artists make mass departures from ‘normal’ culturally-concerned art making. It is within these strays from tradition and the ‘expected’ that new cultural dialogues can begin to emerge, representing the hybridity of Asian-Australian contemporary art practice. By merging traditional Asian techniques and labour-intensive processes, Holding Patterns relishes in craftsmanship and provides opportunities to glimpse the artists’ material worlds of contemplation and stillness, offering momentary suspension from our own holding patterns.

Artist Biographies:

Kien Situ (b. 1990, Sydney) is a sculpture and installation artist meditating on memory, cultural amnesia and identity in relation to the aesthetics of constructed objects and environments. Drawing upon familiar spatial, formal, textural, tectonic and material experience of his East Asian upbringing, Kien utilises and dissects his Eurocentric architectural education to create objects which reinterpret formative aesthetic and sensory experiences obfuscated by a diasporic childhood. His works are a physical melding of this experience, casting industrial gypsum cement with the regional, “artistic” material of Chinese Mò ink, a material central to the artist’s practice as part of the investigation into the symbiotic relationship between geography, place and identity.

Crossing Threads® is the collaborative work of Australian-born sisters of Filipino heritage Lauren Hernandez (b. 1988, Sydney) and Kass Hernandez (b. 1989, Sydney). These self-taught tapestry artists first explored the practice of weaving in early 2015 by attending a beginner’s workshop. Known for their large-scale and highly textural handwoven pieces, the Hernandez sisters seek to emulate the natural forms found in nature. Their carefully curated fibre selections include Australian Merino wool, plant-based fibres, up-cycled/dead-stock fabrics and other foraged items that aren’t traditionally used in fibre art. Their practice has led them to develop their recognisable ‘interknot’ technique, made up of intertwining hand-knotted chains of varying texture and thickness which graduate to a relief. The artists continually draw spiritual inspiration from their surrounding landscapes and personal experiences and are materialised through their abstract designs.

Shireen Taweel (b. 1990, Bankstown, lives and works in Sydney, Australia) is a multimedia installation artist whose work broaches issues of the construction of cultural heritage, knowledge and identity through language and the constantly shifting public space of the social, political and religious axiom. Her artistic practice draws from the personal experiences of being Lebanese Australian living between cultures, and how the physical spaces within her community reflect a complex cultural landscape of transformation expressed through hybridity and plurality. The project development of Shireen’s works are often site-specific, weaving local narratives and research with a focus on experimentation in material and sound through site. Shireen’s constant acquisition of traditional coppersmith artisan skills is a research vessel for community focused conceptual development, and through a progressive application of the collected artisan techniques and a manipulation of the traditional acts of making that leads to possibilities of cross-cultural discourse opening dialogues of shared histories and fluid community identities. 

Sofiyah Ruqayah (b. 1992, Sydney) is a Sydney-based artist working across drawing, installation, collage and painting to explore the strange territories between human and nonhuman realities. She is interested in themes of mutation, dream and spirit worlds. Drawing upon imagined and felt connections between various bodies, presences and memories, as well familial and cultural myths of embodiment, Sofiyah’s practice invites us to speculate on our nonhuman origins and intertwined fates. In 2020, Sofiyah is undertaking a 12-month studio residency at Parramatta Artists’ Studios, and will present her first solo exhibition at 4A in October, as part of the Holding Patterns exhibition series. She has exhibited both locally and internationally, including group exhibitions at Lubov Gallery (New York), Peacock Gallery (Sydney) and at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre (Sydney) with Woven Kolektif, a collective of emerging Australian artists with personal ties to Indonesia.