Helga Groves


Milani Gallery
14–30 November 2013

This selection of recent work by Helga Groves is the second series inspired by her travels to Northern Finland, Eastern Norway and Iceland while on a residency in Helsinki in 2010. Like much of Australia’s own ancient crust, these pared-down landscapes with microscopic and/or minimal vegetation reveal more of the essential structure of the landforms and geological processes than those places of lush growth and profusion in more temperate parts of the world.

As a visual artist, Groves’ interest in physical geography as visible science presents a parallel universe of significant form. ‘Geomorphic’ as a descriptive term appeals to her as it relates to the structure and formation of the landscape and its natural features as the study of surfaces, validating an aesthetic response. So, too, the process of delineating and manifesting form is ultimately generative and conceptual in nature, like the recognition of new life forms in a petri dish.

For the installation Green precipitation (microclimate series) nocturnal version, a phosphorescent spotlight suggesting biological creation presents just such a model of the universe as prototype and model.

For Lithic (topology series), Groves’ paintings on wood are a tribute to the shaped canvases as hybrids of painting and sculpture that grew out of 1960s abstraction. They also stand in for the shifting ground of tectonic plates and the random patterns of the surface material of lichens, mineral deposits and corrosive weathering.

In other works, such as the series of animation stills and the animation Gravity Tide, Groves defers to her predilection for linear forms and mass shapes. Here, pieces of Finnish granite, captured through fluctuating images of black on white and reverse out white on black in stop-motion, represent the processes of formation over geological time. Projected through double-layered Perspex to enhance the embedded crystalline effect, the after image as aura (like the ‘radioactive’ trace shadows of a photogram), creates a dynamic image of perpetual transformation.

Groves returns to the basic principles of drawing through the medium of animation, doubling that of geomorphic processes, to capture the eternal fluidity of shape and form. Like the fluctuations of tides that delineate the islands and continents of the world, charting rising sea levels,

Groves is mindful of the fact that this is not an unequivocal one-way process, citing the curious fact that Finland’s landmass is incrementally rising in a reversal of the global trend.

Eve Sullivan

November 2013