Organized by Arts Project Australia in Melbourne—a studio and gallery that nurtures and promotes artists with developmental disabilities within the wider spectrum of contemporary art—Polaroid Project brings together Peter Atkins’ re-creations of Polaroid camera packaging and Alan Constable’s versions of the cameras found within those boxes. Their collaboration demonstrates the continued relevance of how artists engage with the objects of consumer culture fifty years after the advent of Pop Art. At first glance, Atkins and Constable seem like unlikely collaborators. Atkins, a contemporary artist based in Melbourne and represented by Tolarno Galleries, is invested in reproducing the clean lines and abstract colorful designs of the advertising industry in exacting detail. The lines of Constable’s cameras are never clean; his forms are inherently exaggerated, and the cameras themselves showcase the thumbing, handling, and kneading of the clay medium. Atkins began collecting Polaroid packaging about four years ago as he was attracted to to the bright rainbow color patterns on the boxes. Atkins knew he wanted to make a new body of work based on the boxes almost forgetting about the contents inside, the cameras themselves. A lightbulb went off in Atkins’ head: the Arts Project studio artist Alan Constable would be an inspired collaborator. If Atkins explores the visual language of how we are drawn to things, thereby making images designed for the masses his own, Constable’s skill lies in personalizing what is inside the box , transforming a mass-produced consumer product into an idiosyncratic object.
Peter Atkins has shown in Australian venues including the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; the Bendigo Art Gallery; the Victorian Tapestry Workshop, Melbourne; Sherman Galleries, Sydney; and Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, among others. Internationally, he has shown in Tokyo and Mexico City. His work is in the collections of every major Australian institution including the National Gallery of Australia; National Gallery of Victoria; Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. Alan Constable has shown in many Australian venues including Arts Project Australia; the National Gallery of Victoria; Craft Victoria, Melbourne; the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne; and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart, among others. Internationally, Constable has exhibited at the Fleisher/Ollman; South Willard, Los Angeles, CA; and the Museum of Everything, London. His work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Victoria and the Museum of Everything.