Soft Topologies is a creative research project that encompasses adaptable sculpture, textiles, video installation and loaned objects from the collection of The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS). Created by Kate Scardifield, this project was informed by her investigations into 19th century astronomical instruments held in the museum’s collection and at Sydney Observatory.
The project was presented at UTS Gallery as part of the 2018 Sydney Design Festival. It re-imagines systems of navigation and explores new ways of mapping by charting a series of collaborative improvisations between bodies and materials in space.
The gallery housed 21 interactive and adaptable textiles, alongside a series of fixtures, steel supports and a large-scale wall schema that mimics a patternmaker’s cutting mat. The adaptable textiles in Soft Topologies are propositional forms, meaning they have no fixed shape, composition or instructional element.
The project transformed the gallery into an active and dynamic working space for experimental and interdisciplinary collaboration. Over the duration of the exhibition, six collaborators — a sail-maker, architect, percussionist, choreographer, fashion designer and the artist’s mother— were invited to collaborate in a series of ‘working sessions’ in the gallery space. Whilst not conceived or intended as performances, the working sessions occurred both during and out of gallery opening hours, lasting anywhere between two and six hours at a time.
Soft Topologies is accompanied by a limited edition pleated publication designed by Simone Mandl with an exhibition essay by Isobel Parker Philip (Curator of Photography, Art Gallery of New South Wales).
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.