Kathy TEMIN, Tombstone garden Enlarge 1 /3
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Kathy TEMIN

Sydney, Australia born 1968

  • 1996 - 97, London 1997 - 99, New York 1999 - 2000, Epernay, France

Tombstone garden 2012 Place made: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Materials & Technique: sculptures, synthetic fur, synthetic polymer paint, synthetic stuffing, steel, composition board

Dimensions: 230.0 h x 429.0 w x 180.0 d cm base only 1100 w x 1800 d mm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2012
Accession No: NGA 2012.1784.1-3

Kathy Temin’s Tombstone garden relates to the idea of memorials. Her preoccupation with sites of loss and memory is inflected with aspects of her own history as a descendent of Jewish immigrants but also relates to the idea of memorials more generally. Her work is an Australian landscape of mind, part of the fabric of our place incorporating cross-cultural memories that shape our collective consciousness. Migrations across time and place are part of the substance of who we are.

The whiteness of Temin’s work is a kind of sublimation and reclamation. As the artist noted in an interview with Pricilla Pitts for the 1995 exhibition Materiality and metamorphosis in New Plymouth, New Zealand, her focus is on ‘reworking minimalism so it takes on an appearance of what it represses—the body, sentiment and memory’. In this way, the work has strong parallels with American artist Eva Hesse’s unconventional use of materials, which is equally visceral and symbolic.

In Tombstone garden, the scale of small and large topiary forms of trees and rocks have a bodily relationship. They rise up from the tombstones and are one with them. Covered in soft fur, her forms are reminiscent of childhood toys suggesting comfort and protection. The various components are wrapped up in contrasting aspects of nature and culture, hard and soft, constructed and handmade, loss and the possibility of renewal.

It is through Temin’s insights and sensitivity that a work like Tombstone garden encourages us to reflect on the past in the present while remembering that our dreams for a better future reside in our hands.

Deborah Hart Senior Curator, Australian Painting and Sculpture post 1920


in artonview, issue 73, Autumn 2013

Kathy Temin’s Tombstone garden relates to the idea of memorials. Her preoccupation with sites of loss and memory is inflected with aspects of her own history as a descendent of Jewish immigrants, but also relates to the idea of memorials more generally. Her work is a landscape of mind, part of the fabric of our place incorporating cross-cultural memories that shape our collective consciousness.

The whiteness of Temin’s work is a kind of sublimation and reclamation. As the artist noted in an interview with Priscilla Pitts for the 1995 exhibition Materiality and metamorphosis in New Plymouth, New Zealand, her focus is on ‘reworking minimalism so it takes on an appearance of what it represses—the body, sentiment and memory’. In this way, the work has strong parallels with American artist Eva Hesse’s unconventional use of materials, which is equally visceral and symbolic.

In Tombstone garden, the scale of small and large topiary forms of trees and rocks have a bodily relationship. They rise up from the tombstones and are one with them. Covered in soft fur, her forms are reminiscent of childhood toys suggesting comfort and protection. The various components are wrapped in contrasting aspects of nature and culture, hard and soft, constructed and handmade, loss and the possibility of renewal.

It is through Temin’s insights and sensitivity that a work like Tombstone garden encourages us to reflect on the past in the present while remembering that our dreams for a better future reside in our hands.


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2014
From: Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2014