19 August - 5 September 2015

Opening Night | Thursday 20 August 6-8pm

Meg Wilson

sub rosa enclosure – loosely meaning a secret or private place, is an exploration into imposed perplexity and apprehension. A site-specific work and functionless object. A curtain that you cannot push aside and pass through, and a rug upon which you cannot walk. The work will only be viewable from the underside.

While primarily material-led, Wilson’s work explores feelings of suspense, the out-of-the-ordinary, and confusion. It takes cue from classic horror/thriller genre films and is centralised around the creation of drama through altered states and affected motions, and the emotive potential of ‘the everyday’.

IMAGES | Meg Wilson, Sub Rosa Enclosure, 2015| Images courtesy of the artist. 


Here, behind the emblem rose, we are held to secrecy.

Sub Rosa Enclosure is an experiment with the performativity of space through its alteration.  The woven curtain forbids access to the gallery, but, by displaying the ‘wrong’ side of the work, the artist hints to the viewers that there is something inside to be seen. This is a work that provokes the curiosity of the viewer, drawing them closer to see, but thwarting them as they attempt to do so. 

Wilson hints at a long history of secrets and concealment by placing this room beneath an image of a rose. In Greek mythology, Aphrodite gave a rose to her son, Eros, the god of love. Eros gave that rose to Harpocrates, the god of silence. Aphrodite was the goddess of love, beauty, pleasure and procreation, and as such her indiscretions were to be held clandestine. Drawing on this history, the rose became a signifier of secrecy in the Middle Ages. Suspending this flower from the ceiling of council chambers held all of those present ‘under the rose’ to confidentiality.

In this work Wilson has created an environment that both attracts and repels the viewer. In altering ones’ interaction with, and perception of space, Wilson causes a sense of unnecessary drama triggered by variations on the mundane elements of everyday life. A curtain is designed to conceal what is behind it, but also to allow us to easily draw it aside to see what lies behind. Wilson’s curtain, fixed in place, prevents this. It is only able to fulfill half its intended purpose.

This is a thread that runs through Wilson’s practice, harking back to Flounce, a carpet suspended above the floor of Constance Gallery, Hobart. This work prevented the audience from stepping into the gallery without damaging the work. But it was not possible to fully experience the work from the edge of a gallery.

The enclosure is a positing place for revelation and concealment. The bare, loose threads and knotted tufts, reveal the process of creation. The correct or upside is obscured from view, though access is not completely denied. It’s just awkward. One of the doorways allows for a body to slip through the gaps between the threads. To do so would require the threads to be stretched out of their linear arrangement, potentially unraveling the threads of the rose.

All is at once revealed and concealed.

While this work upsets the expectations of the audience, it is also the artist who is challenged, though through the process of making rather than the process of experiencing the work. Working from interstate she has chosen to make a site-specific work, to fit a space that she is separated from and not able to visit, to check and to clear.

This is a project that has isolated the artist. Many makers talk of the repetitive action of weaving as a cathartic one, leading to a calm place of contemplation and reflection. Wilson has challenged herself to create this work in a truncated time frame. Given only a few short weeks, and fitting this project around the others that she has on the go, not to mention work, she has limited time in which to complete her task. There is no catharsis here, rather, her body hurts and she becomes increasingly isolated and emotional due to lack of sleep and an unknown outcome.

Nervous decisions are made under the added pressure of limited time. As each new thread is started it affects all the others in the work. It is a balance of not only colour in order to create the image but also tension to ensure a smooth surface. The behavior of the threads is largely uncontrollable. As she reaches the top of the woven doorway, the threads become more and more tense and the spaces between them grows, revealing the contents of the enclosure. Moving too quickly with one colour will result in holes. Many of these imperfections are left as part of the work, exposing Wilson’s process, just as her decision to display the wrong side of the work has done. Each project is a struggle for the artist, and pushes her to the limits of both mental and physical health.

In discussing this process, Wilson says ‘I feel withdrawn from the world at this time and that makes me become completely self-consumed and largely selfish. Inside this room is that part of me that is disgraced.  Sometimes I invite others into this world. At times of crisis and catharsis. Though that experience is only open to a select few’.

Just as this room is trying to both welcome and thwart an audience, this is an artist who is trying to strike a balance with being okay with herself and what she is able to achieve while trying to conceal a little bit from the outside world.

We all have desires and attractions. We all want a little bit of what we can’t or shouldn’t have. There is pleasure in guilt. There is thrill in fear. We are curious though we are cautious. Every decision, or thread we place, is calculated to reveal or conceal these desires from the outside world. Sub Rosa Enclosure is a space that exposes these questions and challenges the audience to confront them. It is almost as if the installation is laughing at us, goading its viewers into pushing past the bounds of comfortableness. Is it OK, or even possible to touch, pass through, or peer behind? And if it is, will you do it?