The practice of multi-awarded sculptor James Gardiner traverses transdisciplinary boundaries of industrial design, technology development, materials science, marine biology, architecture, mechanical engineering and sculpture. For Gardiner, the greatest creative opportunities dwell in the gaps between formal professions, carving open fertile spaces for experimentation and innovation. His tactile exploration of form and surface responds to the agglomeration of cities over time, casting conceptual and visual links with geological phenomena such as rock erosion and stratification. Gardiner is in awe of the ways natural systems surpass any of humanity’s most sophisticated mechanisms.
Drawing from his background in architecture and his extensive travels, Gardiner’s abstracted sculptures image the aerial imprints of human habitation on the landscape, paralleling the planning grids of various cities with geological formations. The physiognomy of each micro landscape is etched with stratifications, undulations and lines, evoking the creative and destructive forces of civilization.
Although Gardiner was a global expert and pioneer in the field of Construction 3D Printing, his sculptural practice centres on the manual, the handmade and the analogue. It represents a return of the human hand in an age of digitisation and automation. Many of the works in his new series were created while on a residency at UNSW Art and Design, where the artist experimented with techniques, tools and materials. Varied processes of carving, shaping, grit abrasion, gauging, sanding, charring and coating via angle grinders, steel brushes, grit blasters and rotary tools allow the artist to weather and age his landscapes – mimicking formations scarred by the lashes of time. In this way, Gardiner’s sculptures become artefacts; microcosms for the slow yet steady agglomeration of real landscapes.