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Rodney Glick
Project team: Made Putra Edy, Wayan Darmadi

Everyone No. 199
2013
carved and painted wood
50 x 15 x 15 cm

It has never been easy, yet never boring keeping up with Rodney Glicks art practice, just when you think you have come to grips with a body of work he moves on to something else. This is not because he is capricious but because he approaches making art in a totally logical way. He has ideas that he wants to explore or challenge and then looks at what means are available and whom he can find with the appropriate skills. It is a role not unlike that of the film director who has absolute creative control but doesnt personally act the parts or hold the camera. In this way he has collaborated with people from the fields of writing, architecture, film, painting, photography and engineering. And he has worked with a variety of materials including marble, blue tarpaulins, polystyrene foam and found objects. As a result, writes Marco Marcon, Glick allows his work to feed off the transformative power of heterogeneity.

When Glick wanted sculptures carved from wood he approached me as he thought I might be able to help find him a woodcarver in Bali. He showed me a series of digitally manipulated photographic portraits, some of the artist himself, produced in collaboration with photographer and film maker Sohan Ariel Hayes, and explained that these works would serve as source material for the sculptures. I was familiar with Bali, spoke the language reasonably well, and had contacts in both the arts and business worlds. I was also familiar with Glicks work having followed his career, collected his publications and I even had one of his early paintings. It seemed like a reasonable match so we went to Bali.

We enlisted the help of my close friend Nyoman Suweta and together we visited several carving studios before deciding on Made Leno from the village of Kemenuh, near Ubud. Nyoman was also to act as project manager, overseeing the work in our absence and helping with the complex logistical issues involved with such large works. Most Balinese woodcarvers learn their skills from an established carver, often a family member or neighbour, under an informal apprenticeship system. They learn to carve images of gods such as Siwa and Ganesha, and heroes from the great Hindu epics such as Rama and Hanoman. They also carve Buddhas, their stock in trade people and animals from daily life. Their training does not normally equip them to produce a likeness, and for Glicks work it was essential that the sculptures were accurate, lifelike representations. Leno learnt to carve at an early age from his father, but he had also been to art school and studied life drawing, and he was confident about having the technical skills to produce life like works of various different scales. Apart from being confident of his ability, he seemed surprisingly unfazed at the prospect of carving a bigger than life size statue of Glick with three heads and four arms.

As is normal in Bali, negotiations regarding price were protracted but friendly and eventually a price was fixed and work began. Within days wood for the first large work had been sourced and the initial shaping had been done, with Leno and his assistants working with a chain saw and an axe. A large tree trunk didnt quite look like the artist yet but it was already coming to life. The availability of wood in Bali is a problem and we did our best to ensure that the wood used for the sculptures was from sustainable sources. The wood used is known as Suar, a timber native to South America but grown in Java. Suar is particularly valued for use in large carvings as it has a multi-directional grain making it less likely to split than other timbers when exported to drier climates.

On our next visit a few months later we were shown an almost completed sculpture that was now a very good likeness of the artist and also had a wonderful charismatic presence. We were excited and relieved that in Made Leno we had found someone with the skills and sensibility that we needed.

Finding suitable painters was not easy and painting of the early works was completed by Claire Evans in Glicks studio after they had been shipped to Perth. Eventually two artists, Wayan Darmadi and Dewa Tirtayasa, from villages close to Ubud were recruited as part of the team. Both are art school graduates with an awareness of contemporary art movements but they have both also been influenced by traditional painting techniques which stress precision and scrupulous attention to detail. The more recent works have all been painted by Wayan Darmadi in his studio in Bona.

After 5 years of working with Made Leno, Glick decided to seek out other carvers to continue the series. He settled on a young wood carver from the village of Mas, Ubud, Made Putra Edy, himself the son of a Master Carver. Glick and Edy started working together by producing some photorealistic wooden masks, which have been used in later work in combination with
Buddha statues, and in 2012 moved into three-dimensional figure sculptures. From 2011 up until the present, figures in the Everyone Series are carved by Edy and members of his family.

What are these works all about? That is for individual viewers to decide but as with much of Glicks work, the ordinary or the commonplace is presented in such a way that it becomes special. Whether it is the portrait of the artist wearing jeans and tee-shirt but with multiple arms and heads Everyone No. 9, the couple wrapped in lotus petals, Everyone No. 83 or the naked ladyboy Everyone No. 136, all are imbued with a dignity that we come to realise is
common to all humanity.

Chris Hill

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