Barely Wearable

Body adornment for the age of overconsumption


A Very Close Shave
A VERY CLOSE SHAVE
Disposable razor blades.
CAFFEINATED
Used coffee pods, neoprene.
TICKLE THE IVORIES
Piano keys, felt, wire.
HEAR ME OUT
CD discs, stainless steel wire, alligator clips.
SIX-PACK DREAMING
Beer bottle caps, beer can six pack holders.

Behind the visually striking, cleverly ironic and seemingly effortlessly constructed objects ... lies a wealth of ideas, references, skills and commentary.

Prof. Amanda Lawson.

Read Opening Remarks in full here


About the exhibition

This body of work is a continuation of Ruth Downes’ passion for reappropriating everyday materials and objects to celebrate their intrinsic beauty. Materials for these thirty ‘wearable’ artworks have been gleaned from a diverse range of sources – from aircraft headsets to coffee capsules. Detritus from nature has also been salvaged to be re-born as a fashion statement.

By reimagining these materials she has created works that transcend their utilitarian function, casting them in a fresh light. The works question our accepted values and how we award status by projecting these everyday materials into the realm of art. They have a preciousness that confounds our expectations irrespective of their humble origins. This is much more than a simple ‘up-cycling’ exercise – Downes has an acute awareness of the potential of these materials. Her trademark humour also runs as a thread throughout the exhibition adding a further dimension.

These 3D works are mounted on a spectrum of coloured ellipses (350 – 750mm high) with several ‘busting out’ on mounted body forms. Some works are augmented by photo portraits of models (of varying sizes and gender) attempting to make them wearable. 

> See Ruth’s CV


The exhibition is coming next to Manly, Sydney

15 October – 28 November, 2021

MAGM – Manly Art Gallery and Museum, Manly, Sydney NSW

Sunday 17 October, 3 – 5 PM: Opening by Therese Kenyon and artist’s talk.

Saturday 23 October, 2 – 4 PM: Artist’s talk.

West Esplanade Reserve Manly. 5 minutes walk from Manly Ferry wharf. Open: Tuesday – Sunday, 10 AM – 5 PM.

View all the exhibition tour dates here


Interested in hosting?

Galleries are welcome to contact Ruth about hosting the exhibition at their venue.

> Click here for information for galleries

BRAZARRE
Bra underwires and hooks, strainers, mesh, clips.
HARD WIRED MOUSE
Computer keyboard parts, adapters, mouse.
34B FOR A WARRIOR PRINCESS
Rubber (Viking weave), stainless steel chocolate pots, nickel.
HARD BOILED
Plastic egg, egg cups, wire springs.
MIXED FRUIT AND VEGIES
Mesh produce bags, PVC, neoprene trim.