Audio Description #4 – Deep Heat

–Audio Description–

Title: Deep Heat
Artist(s): Kenzee Patterson
Date: 2020
Materials: laminated Rouse-Port Fairy bluestone taken from excess construction material at Lyon Housemuseum Galleries, Kew

Deep Heat is a sculpture of a disembodied human arm carved out of segments of basalt that have been adhered together in a series of vertical layers. The stone is blue-grey in colour, with subtle areas of light brown. The arm is positioned flat on the gallery floor with the palm facing downwards. The arm bends at the elbow creating a right angle. The dimensions are 57cm in length, 38cm in width and 10cm in height. Deep Heat follows the contours of the fingers, wrist, elbow and arm muscles, with the biceps and shoulder muscles slightly flattening as though from the pressure of resting on the floor.

Deep Heat is finished to a marmoreal smoothness, except at the shoulder, where this texture – and the sculpture – end abruptly, as if the arm has been hastily severed from its absent torso. Here, the stone has not been worked to a flush surface. Instead, the six distinct sections of basalt that constitute this part of the sculpture jut out at irregular intervals, some protruding as much as half a centimetre.

On this surface, adhesive residue from the laminating process is visible as thick, glossy globules of cream coloured, hardened glue. This is particularly noticeable in the vertical joins between each layer of bluestone. In places where the adhesive is smeared across the basalt in a thin layer, it is transparent and wet-looking. There are two parallel, horizontal yellow lines drawn across this end of the sculpture, one at the top and one at the bottom, and they are approximately 8cm apart. These lines, together with the adhesive residue, remain as evidence of the artwork’s making.

Many narratives are embedded within Deep Heat’s bent arm, but what is immediately noticeable are the erratic patterns of vesiculation banding the limb. These ancient gas bubbles, or vesicles, are trapped within the surface of this stony material, hinting at an era when this rock was liquid. Commonly referred to as bluestone, the basalt which constitutes Deep Heat was taken from excess construction material at the Lyon Housemuseum Galleries in Naarm/Melbourne, site of a major sculpture commission the artist completed in 2019. Long before it was quarried and processed into slabs of uniform thickness, this bluestone flowed as molten lava from what is now an extinct volcano at Mount Rouse to present day Port Fairy, on Gunditjmara Country.

Bluestone is a heavy material; it has a bulk specific gravity of 2596 kg/m³. Bluestone is a heavy material; stone from this area has been used as a building material in dams, eel traps and dwellings by Gunditjmara engineers for millennia, and more recently it was appropriated by Europeans to construct dry stone walls and colonial edifices upon this Country.

Out of mindfulness for the basalt that remains underground, Kenzee has fixed remnant pieces of stone together, creating new figures and forms in an act of performed depositing. Once-temporally disparate and geographically distant sections are combined, yet not made whole, and the flow of this material continues.

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