To mark the launch of our new season shade Cobalt, we invited eight artists to join our Artist in Residence series and exhibit their cobalt-hued works in Assembly Label stores around Australia and New Zealand.
When we first visited Clementine Maconachie at her Sydney studio in March 2022, a series of statuesque totems caught our eye. Amid origami-like folds of steel and wiry line sculptures, Clementine’s totems silently transform the spaces they inhabit. Hand-carved from aerated concrete, these stacked pebble sculptures are a significant landmark in her practice, “which started with abstract welded shapes and steel one-line sculptures and then moved onto folded metal shapes and totems,” says Clementine.
While shades of grey, black and white often dominate her work, the artist’s cobalt-coloured sculptures posses a particularly captivating energy. Working with cobalt, she says, “is exciting in that it adds a pop of colour to my studio, which has a habit of being rather neutral at times.” Cobalt’s colourful history, artistic associations and mythical qualities also captured Clementine’s imagination. “I have always loved blue and all its different shades. This blue a reminds me of Matisse, an artist I have loved since childhood,” she tells. “It’s pure and brilliant, and there is a legend that it is the favourite ore of goblins, so maybe that has something to do with it.”
The contrast of the totems’ solid forms and precariously balanced appearance is a fitting metaphor for Clementine’s practice — she has always been interested in working with tough industrial materials to produce things of lightness and beauty. That contrast applies to her wider creative world — while working on this totem, she was listening to podcasts ranging from a program about Formula 1 to the artist Ai Weiwei’s memoir 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows. Everything is inspiration, says Clementine. “There is so much beauty and inspiration in the world.”
Clementine’s Artist in Residence work will be available to purchase through her website after the exhibition. For enquiries, contact firstname.lastname@example.org