"Map", 2008 (installation view at Guildford Lane Gallery, Melbourne). Plastic take-away food-container lids, nylon thread; 250 x 350 cm approximately


"...the everyday transformed into something magical and enigmatic." 1

Tim Craker finds another use for the things which clutter our kitchen cupboards, fill our rubbish bins and take up space in landfill: "Map" is a suspended grid of tied-together lids from plastic take-away food containers.

The work's origins lie in a response to materials. "Map" is the result of the artist's play with cheap, abundant, easily-available units, experimenting with how they might be combined and seeing what happens physically and conceptually - when they are.

The lids are preserved as units, pierced at each corner only to allow their attachment, one to the next, by a surgical knot in nylon thread. The relationship is fixed, but within certain bounds: each lid can move to some degree in relation to its neighbours - a play in connection with both physical and metaphorical dimensions. 

The pleasure inherent in the grid's regularity, predictability and order is twisted and enhanced by the net's irregular suspension: the perfect pattern morphs into a computer-modelled plane, a topographic model, a fluctuating graph in three dimensions, the surface of a sea.

Acknowledging the works origins in a dialogue between artist and materials, however, is not to ignore "Map"'s other resonances. 

The materials Craker uses are the uncounted corollary of a consumer society run wild, and are themselves the products of an environmentally-destructive petrochemical industry. While they are items of consumer convenience, their non-biodegradability becomes somewhat inconvenient: impermanence embodied in their disposable function becomes, in landfill, undesired permanence as waste. 

"Map" was exhibited in Malaysia and Singapore in 2008 as part of dot-net-dot-au, a travelling joint exhibition with Melbourne artist Louise Saxton.

1. Gina Fairley, reviewing dot-net-dot-au in Asian Art News Vol 18 No 6 Nov-Dec 2008.

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