The Wit of the Staircase (extract) by Samuel Hodge

4 Oct 2019

The Wit of the Staircase (extract) by Samuel Hodge

You may have noticed that we have a new mural on the terrace, a stunning 11m long work which spans the entrance to HOTA Café. You can take a peek here.

Commissioning artists to create work is one of the many ways in which we support artists. For this commission acclaimed Sydney based artist Samuel Hodge produced his largest work to date.

Samuel Hodge has a decade-long career exhibiting across Australia and internationally. He has created bodies of work from intimate portraits of friends and lovers to elaborate, staged scenes, beautifully realised through both digital and film photography. Most recently he has turned to collage as a means of bringing together fragments spanning his entire, extensive archive, creating whole new worlds in the process.

Bradley Vincent, Curator – Public Art & Outdoor Programming. discusses this work:

‘Artist Samuel Hodge works with photographic materials, both his own and found images, to create ecstatic, fantastic collages. The Wit of the Staircase (extract), 2019, is a work that brings together separate parts to forge a new but elusive narrative.

We are left to speculate at the meanings created in this amassing of images. A field of flowers is fractured by frames of loosely associated subjects. Figures and scenes are enmeshed and inverted. A statue stands in for flesh, flesh is morphed and merged. History and present collide.

As a viewer your gaze wanders the 11-metre length of the work, discovering more and more details the longer you spend. Against the floral background, large images stand out first. Two masks dominate the left side of the work. They are echoed in the centre by two youthful faces, merging into one. To the right side are more pairings: a duo poses for the camera in disguise or costume. Figures dominate the landscape.

Looking closer though, more clusters of images emerge, rising from the bed of flowers. A cat and its twin, or itself repeated, rest at the bottom edge of the work. A piece of toast, saying “Hi”, hovers along the top edge.  Food, in fact, repeats itself across the picture plane – the substance of everyday life dotted among a collage of elaborate images.

Small moments of tenderness, too, are hidden in the picture. In shadow, a figure sits in solitude with his head bowed. A young man embraces an older woman in comfort or affection. A young couple entwine themselves, comfortably relaxed.

Elsewhere, images that might represent the disparate things that make up a life can be found. A dolphin show from an almost forgotten childhood holiday. A religious icon in a glow of light. The notes and scribbles of a teenage, high school notebook. The rocky boulders of the artists’ own hometown.

It is a phantasm of stories that holds itself a step beyond clear comprehension. If these fragments all came together to sum up a life, what kind of life would it be? The Wit of the Staircase (extract) gives no clear answers but instead lays out clues. Clues brought together by a us as we walk for ourselves through the picture.’

The artwork will be able to be viewed from 1 Oct – 31 Mar 2020.

Image credit:

The Wit of the Staircase (extract), 2019, Samuel Hodge