The Factory

Factorywork, 2016, ink on paper, 100 x 80 cm

Factorywork, 2017, oil on canvas

Factorywork, 2017, oil on linen, 110x110cm, wallpaper

Factorywork, 2017, oil on canvas, ink on paper, installation view Charles Nodrum Gallery, Melbourne

Big City, 2016, oil on canvas 200 x 150cm, [r] Factorywork, 2017, oil on canvas 140 x 100 cm, detail

Sleeping with Buildings, 2016, ink on paper, 14 x 18 cm each

Factorywork 2017
@ Charles Nodrum Gallery

by Kate Nodrum
In these works I see the ‘factories’ of my own city of Melbourne – where Sadie also lives and works: the freeway traffic filtering past the silos on Punt Road; the smell of the refinery as you drive through Altona; the view of the docks from Footscray; and the trendy cafes and apartment conversions amongst the warehouses of Collingwood. Then I think of how these buildings came about - how their ancestors emerged during the industrial revolution of the 19th century. They were new and vast buildings that housed and witnessed the feats of engineering and mechanisation that profoundly transformed our society. I think of that time of wealth and urbanisation; of consumer comforts, and the emerging modernity. These pictures show our cities for the marvellous creations they are – hives of activity, of production and growth, turning the cogs in the industrial and commercial wheels which make nations economically strong ….

But then I see that some of the thick black sketch lines are a bit skew-wif, that some rectangles and triangles are wonky, and that some chimneys coil back into themselves… And then the windows become eyes and the smoke-stacks become limbs and all of a sudden I’ve caught these edifices like deer in headlights – these buildings have become humanoid and are staring back at me, some with an empty gaze, others with surprise - or shame. For these densely packed, absurd looking constructions reveal our obsession with building, with mass producing, with extending our anthropocene reach interminably. These cityscapes conjur a vision of the overworked and overstimulated brain and organs of today’s citydweller, endlessly consuming. At once cute and comic, they can morph into the ugly and dark. Are the fleshy coloured paintings on the stark black and white wallpaper a view of a harsh reality through rose coloured glasses?

This new wallpaper continues Sadie’s long interest in the process. It follows previous wallpaper installations at the Charles Nodrum Gallery, including Numbers Wallpaper in 2010 and Crying Wallpaper in 2006, as well as Paperwork #3 at Blindside Gallery in 2016, and North Wallpaper at North Cafeteria in Carlton in 2007. This new work attests to her ability to create compositions in which the subjects float, weightless and immersive, in a space, as with her still life paintings on black grounds; and her ability to work layers to create an intriguing sense of depth, as with her 2014 spray paintings. This Factorywork is amongst the most active of her wallpapers to date, particularly thanks to her installation of the paintings on the wallpaper. This layering of activity on top of activity results in a veritable playground for the eyes.

A word on Sadie’s process: the wallpaper consists of hundreds of individual ink drawings on large sheets of plain white paper. These are not prints; they are unique, free-hand drawings. Starting from the top and working down, she pastes each sheet upon the next by hand. Every installation therefore is entirely hand-made and can never be replicated exactly.

Factorywork, 2017, ink on paper