Sunday, August 23, 2009

Level with me

QUESTIONS OF BALANCE                                                                

26 August – 13 September 2009

Exhibition statement

Claire Beynon has long been preoccupied with the relationship between apparent opposites. Ever since her first solo show in Johannesburg in 1985, one of her central motivations has been to articulate the creative dynamics between order and spontaneity, reason and intuition, the masculine and feminine, the material and the spiritual… 


“Today’s world is increasingly characterized by chaos, clamour and conflict. It seems to me that in our bid to make ourselves heard, we’re forgetting how to listen. There is much reason to protest, but I believe the way forward calls for a subtler approach; contemplation, poetry and pause are becoming widely appreciated as effective methods of engagement in world issues, rather than the old knee-jerk responses of fear and aggression. History has proven time and again that violence, negativity and neglect only attract more of the same; we have to find other ways to say what needs to be said. One thing is certain: it behoves us as artists – and as human beings - to respond. We cannot ignore the world’s lament.”


Questions of Balance is a visual/poetic response to our planet’s environmental, spiritual, political and ideological imbalances. It uses the dialectic between the builder’s level (with its enigmatic and ethereal spirit bubbles*) and the plumb bob (all weight and materiality) to evoke a dialogue between our physical and metaphysical worlds and to bring current global questions out into the open.

“The metaphorical implications of these tools are fairly obvious; the spirit level and plumb bob are essential instruments in every builder’s toolbox; without them, sound structures are unattainable, dependent as they are on right relationship between the absolute vertical and absolute horizontal. Truth might be relative, complex and multi-faceted, but there can be no arguing with the simple pronouncements of these two fundamentally reliable tools of measurement. For this reason, there is something inherently comforting about them.


I have always had an interest in the sacredness of everyday objects. My intention in this work is to highlight the symbolic potency of the builder’s level and plumb bob and to invite others to consider them in a wider context as metaphorical tools of change and as a means of re-dressing balance in our 21stCentury. Attributing these humble objects with both intimacy and monumentality gives them a new, larger-than-life presence.  


Elusive as it is, balance is an ideal most of us aspire towards. It is an active, dynamic state, redolent with potential, story and meaning.

Dunedin, 15 August 2009


*The glass spirit vials incorporated in these sculptural pieces were manufactured by Geier & Bluhm, NY. In 2008, during my second research season in Antarctica, a selection of these – and other - vials were frozen into ice before being transported eighty feet below the Explorers Cove sea ice. The primary motivation behind sending them on an underwater journey was (i) to test their resilience in that extreme environment, (ii) to add a layer of history to what would otherwise remain plain, industrialized objects and (iii) to imbue them with metaphorical potency that would ultimately add ballast to this, and future series of sculptures.

Level Best - CB 2009 

Kwila, stainless steel, glass spirit vials, stainless steel cable & bison wax - 1801 x 91 x 91MM (level) and 471 x 579MM (bob)

Sincere thanks to the terrific men without whose input and practical nous I would not have been able to actualize these 3D pieces --- especially Michael Salmon, Peter Leith, Graham Burgess, Alan Stocker and Robin Nyhof. 

Special thanks, too, to Pete at Nevill Framer's, TDC for Leveling conversations & support, Russell Knowles for keeping an eye out for plumb bobs and builders' levels for me (over a period of months, if not years - bless you, Russell!) and Peter Nicholls & Darryl Daniels for saying 'yes' to me living with your precious plumb bobs for all these months. 

Without community, where would we be? 


  1. All the best for the exhibition Claire. This is too marvellous for words! I am looking forward to seeing it 'in the flesh'.

  2. All the best for the exhibition Claire. This is too marvellous for words! I am looking forward to seeing it 'in the flesh'.

    my email is

  3. All the best for the exhibition Claire. This is too marvellous for words! I am looking forward to seeing it 'in the flesh'.