2004 Meme: Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Award

Finalists in the 2004 Helen Lempriere Sculpture Award. Four works individually suspended in the canopies of four Lemon-scented Gums in the gardens of Werribee Mansion, Phin Murphy and Jim Sinatra in collaboration with Marie Sierra.

Meme is specific to the sites of the Lemon-scented Gums (Corymbia citriodora), which have a strong anthropomorphic and unworldly quality. The work partly reflects on this quality, and partly on our relationship to this, and other species. The liminal nature of the work – its appearance and reappearance, its height in the trees – calls into question a relationship with nature that is both symbiotic and parasitic. It reads as a contradictory concept, the remnant of recent activity, the flotsam of an inundation – a benign swarm, benevolent yet insidious.The work is an act of selection and appropriation, a recurring object/image, an idea that spreads if though of its own volition - in short, a ‘meme’. A meme is a unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, which is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another. The project, distributed through one species of tree, operates as an object meme.Not only are the questions raised by the work directed towards the relationship between the objects and their host trees, but also the human relationship with nature in all its manifestations. The work is placed in three Lemon-scented Gums near the entry to the park, and in another younger specimen at the rear of the grounds. In this way, the work appears and reappears, compelling and resonant, as one walks through the grounds.

The Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Award, Highly Commended, 2004.


Meme perched within Lemon scented gums.

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