BY DOUGAL PHILLIPS
In Security Blanket, Alexander Seton brings the fine art of marble sculpting to a conceptual sculptural practice which draws upon themes of memory, play and safety. The works in this exhibition are beautifully crafted objects which marry hyper-real material effects with carefully chosen miniature icons - a row of houses, a Spruce tree, a jeep.
The common foundation of each of the works is the folded doona recreated in marble. Each doona is folded differently, some as if laid out at bed’s end, others as a heaped pile on a teenager’s floor or as a stage for combat in a child’s room. The materiality of the marble is key here. The doona folds have been carefully rendered, with colour of the marble matching the off-white and grey tones of an aging comforter. The marble itself incorporates the powerful impressions of childhood - not only does it remind the artist of his bedclothes, this particular marble is quarried from the Wombeyan area, close to where Seton spent time as a child.
In Ignorance is bliss, Seton visualizes the idiom ‘The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’, reflecting on the formative roles played by both parents and surrounds, with a representative of the Spruce trees his parents planted on the family property. In ‘Resistance is all you've got’, the doona becomes a theatre of war, with a toy jeep - the same basic model played with by children for decades - signifying the Master of War fantasies acted out by generations of kids on bedroom floors. The models of jeep might have changed, but the dreadful resonance with contemporary global events remains. In ‘I am more terrified than you’, small cookie-cutter houses sit in rows atop the folded doona, coloured in a range of designer hues. Today, we are faced with false choices - the same thing marked out with cosmetic differences, whether McMansions or democratic parties.
What Security Blanket ultimately offers is a double-barreled question: What does security mean, and where is it found? People of all ages cling to their doonas physically and mentally, as landscapes for emotional turmoil, covens of vulnerability or, in the eyes of the child, a ground-level world to be built on and conquered. In the end, what Seton reminds us is how little really changes over the years.