Images link to the relevant archive entries. In some cases more extensive notes are linked on separate pages.

1990 Vault

group exhibition curated by Zylvia Auerbach at The Foundry, Leichhardt, Sydney.

Vault was a large group show attempting to draw attention to an old building which was in danger of being bulldozed, and which later was replaced by town houses.

There was a high wall in the Leichhardt Foundry building with a dry white surface, and two openings, one a horizontal window to what was once a servery and the other a vertical doorway into the water metre room under the stairs. The wall also had graffiti and several pipes going into it. I cast two plaster blocks with plaster strengthened with hessian, each the size of one opening, and made a handle for each, secured at the back with a board of wood. They resembled finger drawers and plasterers trowels, slightly confusing the scale and nature of the space.

1991 Discrete Entity

group exhibition at the Canberra School of Art Gallery, Canberra.

Discrete Entity was a group show of installation work by 6 artists curated by Julie Ewington and David Watt at the Canberra School of Art Gallery. The artists were selected after responding to advertisements. As quoted in the exhibition catalogue, resulted from the followingn proposal:

'When I last saw the Gallery, the ceiling contained large air conditioning ducts which dominated the space. If these are still there, I would like to install a work composed of similar ducts which would be attached to the two lengths of duct which end at the windows, and which would join as a V on the floor. This would have the effect of bringing the existing ceiling ducts into the exhibiting space as 'a work', and reduce their dominace of the space by giving them equal status with the other artwork in the gallery. This has obvious implications as a metaphor for one of the basic goals of feminism, as well as trying to free the space from the cramping effects of the ducts.'

The V was about 5 metres high and made from new airducting cut on an angle, reversed and welded together again, connected to the existing air ducts and painted the same colour. When made, the work appeared to be the whole of the airducting system in the ceiling, sitting on the floor on one point. It also appeared as a piece of jewellery, compressing or questioning the scale of the space viewers were standing in.

1991 installation in Steam

an artists' Project for Australian Perspecta 1991, group exhibition, The Rocks, Sydney.

A last minute change of venue for this exhibition meant that the group was split into 2 locations, with 4 artists in the basement of the ASN building in The Rocks. The basement contained 2 rows of pillars. The pillars were intrusive in the space, so the installation was aimed at 'drawing out' one of the pillars. A plaster board wall was constructed to enclose one pillar, then the whole construction was 'drawn out' by drawing the enclosed area, minus the pillar, over the front of the constructed wall. The enclosed area was drawn in a simplified form - using just the lines where the planes of ceiling, wall and floor meet - by colouring-in the spaces between the lines. Because it was being made as a drawing, it only made this sense when seen from one predetermined position - a spot in front of the opposite pillar. Most of the time, interpretations were open and unpredictable.

1991 Studio drawings

several room drawings made in a studio in the Crago Flour Mill building in Newtown in 1991.

These included a red square which was red iron oxide powder mixed with water mopped onto the wall and floor, then rubbed back by hand when dry to expose the quality of the oxide. The plaster frame was made in 6 parts over black plastic on the floor, then screwed into place. It was an approximate square from one position in the room, and rarely did a viewer see it as a square, as the camera does, because the viewer knows its shape is not square. When the viewer in the room was able to see it as a square, it could appear as flat, or as a concave or a convex corner, which could be disorienting as it simuiltaneously appeared that the ground they were standing on did not exist. The room corner over which it was made contained no detail other than the three plane-joins (ie. no power points, no skirting boards etc)(partly because one wall was constructed when we turned it into a studio.) This contributed to its ambiguity, which enables it to appear as an abstract corner, without particular scale or location, in contrast to the very particular corner located beside it.

The red corner was partly painted off and the red, blue and black oxide rectangles drawn over it. These also did not appear to a viewer standing in the room, as they do to the camera.

1991 Wendy Howard and Margaret Roberts

First Draft WEST, Annandale, Sydney.

This exhibition included a drawing in red iron oxide powder composed of two half circles, each drawn on facing walls, one above the floor and the other below it, joined by the upper surface of the floor. It was made in two rooms of identical size, one above the other, and joined by a staircase outside of the two rooms. Viewers saw one half circle, then walked up or down the stair and saw the other half, and had to put it together in their mind.

1992 Through a Corridor Sideways

exhibition with Rebecca Turrell, The Performance Space, Sydney.


1993 PURL

exhibition in the West Melbourne Primary School, Fifth Australian Sculpture Triennial, Melbourne.


1994 Asialink residency

Institut Seni Indonsia, Yogakarta, Indonesia

1. Nur Gora Rupa, festival of music, performance and installation, Solo, Indonesia.

2. Architecture Department, Universitas Kristen Duta Wacana.

In 1994 I had a 4 month Aialink residency at Institut Seni Indonsia, in Yogakarta, Indonesia. As well as working with students at the campus, I made an installation at Nor Gora Rupa in Solo, and also made work at Univsitas Kristen Duta Wacana in Yogakarta.

1. Nor Gora Rupa is an annual festival of music, performance and installation, in Solo/Surakarta, North of Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Through Galeri Cemeti in Yogyarkarta, I was invited to make a work in a building in the complex in which the festival was held, along with several other artists. The building included several pillars in the centre, and bamboo structures supporting the unstable roof. With the help of Marinta Singarimbun and Chefira Inda, I used a corner of the interior of the building to begin a geometric shape which seemed like a floating square from one point at the entrance, from where it appeared to occupy the centre of the room, because it was on the pillars as well as on the wall behind. The shape broke up when you moved away from that point.

2. Through Galeri Cemeti, I was invited by Eko Prawato to the Architecture Department of Universitas Kristen Duta Wacana in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, and made drawings including a cube which later developed into Leap (1998).

1994 P.I.C.A. Residency

Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Perth, Western Australia. 1994


1995 The Viaduct Project

group exhibition in Federal Park, Annandale, Sydney.

from: Margaret Roberts, Drawing on Rooms, Project Report for Master of Fine Arts, College of Fine Arts, UNSW, 1996:

In The Viaduct Project, nine artists made work under the railway line in Federal Park in Glebe, in a show curated by two of the artists, Rose-Anne McGreevy and Barbara Halnan.The park is a popular place to play sport, walk dogs and generally enjoy being outside, so the audience was composed largely of people who discovered the work accidently. The organisation of the show was a feat, in which I wasn't centrally involved, of dealing with government authorities and members of the public who sometimes saw themselves as protector of the public domain, variously delighted or horrified at seeing people leaving their marks on public property. In galleries, whether public, artist run or private, negotiations still need to be made by the artists, though they are usually concentrated with one body and thus simpler. What seemed most different in this project, was the public reaction—maybe because a public park is more their territory than is a gallery and because art can be seen in a different light when out in the open. Perhaps because they felt they owned a public park, viewers may feel more able to own their own reactions to art situated there, and be less inhibited about expressing them.

Each of the nine artists used an arch of a viaduct-like railway structure which swept through one area of the park. When you stand under the curves of the viaduct, they are like the dome of the sky, as if the builders had been laying out a miniature version in basic brick-work. The arches suggest the impulse to establish a relationship with one's environment, to articulate a response to the world outside ourselves. It is reminiscent of cathedrals which in more complex fashion, represent the heavens in their vaults and domes. The curved form of the arch also articulates a particular response appropriate to its open-air location—it is providing a protective cover at the same time as recognising the openness of the earth to the elements of sky, rain and wind, while also making the mark of human activity within it. To turn one arch into a pastel drawing seemed to be one way of continuing this perennial human activity of acknowledging the space outside ourselves, as well as an expression of spontaneity and altered scale, which the site also suggested.

I used the underside of one of the arches for a drawing by making a diagonal line across the rectangle of the arch as seen from directly below, and colouring each side of the rectangle with a different coloured oxide powder. (See Figure 20.) I thought it would be like looking up and seeing a patch of abstract drawing against the sky—when the powder is rubbed back after it is dry, the hand-marks are usually very visible, as in a hand-made pastel drawing. Since the drawing would be seen against the blue of the sky, it could be red and yellow oxides, making up the three primary colours, and it could be interpreted as a piece of art made up of the sky and earth lying against each other.

When made, the work didn't so much look like a pastel drawing, as having a quality of closeness and comfort. On opening day, it began raining and continued to rain for a week. Whole areas around the arches were flooded for the entire show. Then dogs splashed in the water and seagulls floated on it, all unpredictable elements, like the work itself was to people who discovered it by accident. The presence of the work in a site where life goes on, is partly what gives life to the work, and the arches tended to operate as a protective pocket for the expression of human feeling, among the bleak elements which seem to normally deny it.