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Margaret WEST

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 1936 – Blackheath, New South Wales, Australia 2014


– 2 November, 2014

Double damask 2001 Description: (comprising 506 units)
Place made: New South Wales, Australia
Materials & Technique: sculptures, 506 phosphor bronze mesh units and paint, stapled to wall

Dimensions: 332.0 h x 385.0 w x 1.0 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2002
Accession No: NGA 2002.16
Image rights: © the artist

The boundaries between the traditional Australian domestic interior and the outside world have become marked by the use of codified materials and conventions, such as the metal mesh insect screen. The insect screen allows openness and security, modifying and softening the view beyond, yet obscuring the interior from outside. Margaret West exploits the dichotomies of this ubiquitous material in this screen-like work, cutting it into shapes of the four-petalled damask rose and painting each to emphasise the moiré effects of light and shadow.1 The grid-like repetition of these abstracted forms suggests the symbolism of the cultivated rose garden, as a mediating element to the undomesticated natural environment beyond the home. It also alludes to the woven structure of that most cherished of domestic textiles, the formal white damask tablecloth, with its double-sided and subtle white-on-white reflective pattern, often based on roses. West’s wall of roses is permeable and elusive, a metaphor for continuity and tradition in the face of change.2

1 See Julie Ewington, ‘Wide (true) blue yonder’ in Object, no 28, Sydney: Object – Australian Centre for Craft and Design, 2000, for an account of the development West’s rose imagery in relation to her jewellery.
2 West developed this work during a 2000–01 Fellowship from the Australia Council.


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra