The introductory experience for this exhibition is a massive table made from 45 tables joined together that fills the first long space in Heide’s main galleries. The inspiration for the ‘Heide table’ came from an earlier piece created by John for Captain Kelly’s Cottage on Bruny Island. The original work joined together two individual tables with their own divergent histories to create a single structure, imbued with the richness of both the wood that the tables were crafted from and the delight of bringing the stories of their making together.
For the exhibition, we needed to create an installation that would allow the curators to group the works in novel ways. A ceramic vessel resting on a table evokes a timeless narrative of the domestic setting so central to the tradition of still life in Western art. Joining the tables enabled us to reconfigure this idea while also creating different territories and shifts in scale; a ceramicist with small works could fill a small table, while another with larger works could fill a larger table. The exhibition draws together the work of artists from diverse backgrounds, so the different tables became a way of representing this diversity.
In the workshop, the tables grouped en masse took on a different character. Those that weren’t individually beautiful examples of furniture design were transformed by the serendipitous coming together of legs nearly touching, edges meeting, and sinuous gaps between; an unlikely community of tables.