Click to retun to Suz Gavran sculpture home page About the artist, Suz Gavran Selected works and exhibitions of Suz Gavran Contact Suz Gavran

Jellyfish: nature inspires art 
Australian National Maritime Museum 

www.anmm.gov.au/jellyfish

This exhibition was inspired by the seductive beauty of creatures over 650 million years old. Through sculpture, photography, video, botanic illustrations and scientific specimens, it explores the mysterious and fascinating world of jellyfish.

Together with two other very renown artists, Timothy Horn and Jan King, Suz had two pieces in this beautiful exhibition:

Title: Ebb & Flow Size: 2mHx50cmWx50cmD
Materials: Driftwood, string, fabric, stainless steel cable

Statement: Few people are not mesmerised by the soft, rhythmic movement of jellyfish as they propel themselves through the water. Like a beautiful dance, each contraction brings a dramatic lifting and gentle settling of their veil-like bodies.

'Ebb & Flow' was inspired by this dance – and a visit to Custom’s House Pubic Library at Circular Quay.

Standing in the foyer of the library, the cavity reaching three floors above, had been draped with sheathes of floaty fabric, and as someone crosses the floor, the airflow wafts upwards. With each waft, random pieces of fabric float up and settle slowly back down again, an effect reminiscent of this rhythmic movement of jellyfish.

This inspired me to recreate this movement in a sculpture.

The fragility of jellyfish bodies is communicated through the fineness of the fabric. Using materials from the ocean (such as driftwood imbedded with tiny crustaceans) to further emphasize their delicacy, I constructed the floating structure from which the shimmering fabric panels and ‘tentacles’ hang.

As the airflow fluctuates, the fabric billows and settles giving a visual sense of a smack of jellyfish gracefully drifting and dancing through the water.

Title: SeaJewell Size: 120cmHx30cmWx30cmD
Materials: Fabric, aluminium wire, welded steel, string, pulsating light

Statement: Jellyfish are a microcosm of the sea. Their fragile but deadly bodies echo the ocean’s timeless beauty which disguises its power to destroy.

"SeaJewell" was inspired by the Pelagia Colorata jellyfish which is found in the Pacific Ocean. It takes its name from Pelagia, the goddess of the high seas, also known as Venus who is immortalised in Titian’s famous painting.

Like moonstones, the Pelagia Colorata gives off flashes of light which early navigators thought were magic signals from seductive mermaids.

Its cone-shaped bell is adorned with unique designs as if a supernatural hand has painted tattoos on it. The filament-like tentacles and undulating veils hanging beneath its bell are actually the eyes and lips surrounding the mouth.

Whilst this sculpture is easily read as a jellyfish, it hovered between abstract and symbol. Much as the creature is a bundle of contradiction – grace and fragile beauty versus a ferocious sting that cause serious skin burns – the materials used in the work also create a contradiction. The strength of the welded steel contradicts and accentuates the fragility of the fabric whilst the shadows thrown by the aluminium ‘tentacles’ symbolise the presence of the veiled danger of millions of stinging cells.

The pulsating light echoes the combined ethos of Venus, seductive mermaids, fragile beauty and sinister danger.