During the cooler, darker months, the garden goes to mulch, bulbs and tubers take pause hidden below ground, new green growth all but halts. Gabriella’s inhabitation of the Shuck over the winter and early spring on 2023 works through ideas of personal storage and containment of memory, internal dormancy and creeping, subtle overgrowth.
The Shuck becomes a temporary cocoon for Gabriella’s work ‘Vigilance’, which was a series of hand thrown ceramic vessels based on the idealised ‘Moon Jar’ form, which sees two hand-thrown hemispheres joined into an imperfect sphere, perched upon hand-made wooden plinths which reference both Victorian museological structures and colonial-style furniture. The Ceramics are planted with Night Blooming Cereus, a semi-tropical succulent with flowers that bloom for just one night, and seldom at that. These specific cuttings were taken from a plant which grew for decades at the front steps of Hirsts grandparent’s house. The plant became a footnote in family mythology, with the blooms spoken of by Hirst’s insomniac grandmother, but rarely witnessed by anyone else. It appears as a minor character in the backdrops of family photographs (whose main protagonists came and went). It slowly worked its roots into front steps and causing cracks in the threshold between inside and outside. When her grandparents died and the house was dismantled, Hirst smuggled the cuttings, witnesses to her family unit’s shifting togetherness, in her suitcase into the UK. In this work, Gabriella is interested in illusions of permanence and stasis in both museum and domestic spheres, whilst also considering how memory and the subconscious carries on colonial structures. What is forgotten, what is tender, what is contained, what is carried, what is witnessed, what is distorted. How to hold everything together.
Outside the Shuck, under the soil, another plant lies in dormancy awaiting spring bloom, a breed of tulip with the variety name ‘Nightmare’. Depending on the weather, the soils, and the health of the bulbs themselves, the beautiful Nightmare blooms will ‘recur’ every summer outside the shuck.
Gabriella Hirst (she/her) is an artist. She was born and grew up on Cammeraygal land (Australia) and is currently living between Berlin and London. She works primarily with moving image, performance, and with the garden as a site of critique and care. Gabriella's practice explores the politics of capture- most recently in relation to museums, gardens and irrigation. She maintains an ongoing research/garden project with curator Warren Harper navigating the entanglements of nuclear armament and colonial gardening practices.
Gabriella's recent projects have been exhibited and commissioned by the Kunsthalle Osnabrück (DE), Focal Point Gallery (UK), The Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Australian Center for the Moving Image (AU). She is the recipient of the 2020 ACMI/Ian Potter Moving Image Commission, is a previous Marten Bequest Scholar and a recipient of the John Crampton Fellowship. She is an associate lecturer in Media Studies with the RCA School of Architecture.