Touring exhibition
Ceci nést pas une pipe  
Rene Magritte, 1928-29  
Encircling the domestic and commercial buildings in which we live is a myriad of colourful pipes that provide modern conveniences. For the most part, these pipes dwell in the periphery - we are too busy keeping ‘our eyes peeled’ for car spots in busy shopping centres, foraging for the dishwashing detergent in the dark cupboard under the sink, or simply not looking for the ubiquitous pipe.  
Pipe Dreams is the first solo exhibition by Gold Coast artist Erica Gray, who does, in fact, notice these pipes. Growing up in the suburbs of the Gold Coast with a father who worked as a plumber and three brothers that would eventually follow him into the trade, Erica and her childhood friends would fashion games out of various pipes and componentry. A combination of both the reflective materials and interesting forms influenced Erica’s creative practice, resulting in this exhibition of soft sculpture and paintings.  
A pipedream is a tremendous hope that is impossible to achieve. The nonsensical squishy pipe creations that Erica produces could never (and don’t wish to) perform the basic role of a pipe; instead these forms invite us to contemplate the unseen intertwining grids that circulate our lives. Constructed with PVC fabric, polyester stuffing and plywood, Erica inverts the logic and function of a pipe, instead engaging us with notions of scale, materiality, architecture and the body. She toys with ideas of physical presence and representation in a manner akin to the work of Belgian artist Rene Magritte.  
Erica Gray has perfected her craft over two decades in the fashion industry. She first worked on various surf label contracts, among them the surf-wear brand Pipedreams. She then worked across a range of projects that involved sewing, costuming and accessory-making. In contrast to this, Erica revels in the freedom that her artistic practice offers her.....
I take special care to make my stitches shown on my artwork, in all their random and uneven way. Nothing makes me happier than seeing those stitches bunched up and on display where once it would have been unsightly.  
Instead of cloaking the human form in material, Erica wrangles with, and ultimately controls, the sculptures into submission. Although for me fashion was a form of sculpture, I never had to worry about the core, as the person I was fitting held up the form. Now with each sculpture I thrill at the challenge of putting it together and making the form whole. The artist uses the symbol of pipes and the term ‘pipe dream’ to organically explore and explain the contradictions and challenges that we face in life;  
Pipe Dreams represents the attitudes of go get-‘em, take a risk, jump and leap into new challenges, do that what takes your breath away or makes your pulse race and in the end if you don’t quite make it- sit back and have a laugh or better yet - try again!  
It is this sense of humour and unabashed optimism that pulsates through the works on display. Erica’s practice shares resonance with the spirit of Surrealism. As pipes, these sculptures are non-functional and impractical. Yet as pieces of art they allow the viewer to be transported to another world in which shiny red PVC fabric could well be the material of choice for plumbers, who might install squishy bulging pipes along the interior walls of homes and buildings.  
In the lead up to this exhibition, Erica travelled to Canberra to view soft sculpture in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia. During the 1960s and 1970s there was a fundamental shift in thinking about materiality and space, which followed on from the ready-made sculptures and modern constructions of the Surrealists in the early twentieth century. Erica uses unconventional substances to challenge the nature of sculpture, and in doing so completely upends the materiality of the object, leaving it open to physical possibilities envisioned through the imagination of the viewer. Materially, Erica’s shiny and puffy red pipes share a resonance with functional pipes. Polyvinyl chloride, more commonly known as PVC, is one of the most common materials used in contemporary plumbing and waste management. Erica chooses to work with a derivative of PVC, thereby imbuing the sculptures with elements of authenticity. After her years in the clothing manufacturing business she understands the limitations of the material – the way it falls, and its tendency to creep into crinkled folds.  
The componentry of the sculptures are also born from Erica’s genuine knowledge of pipes and the vernacular of the plumbing and construction world. In addition to being raised by a family of plumbers, she now lives and works with her partner – an architect. Surrounded by architectural plans with electrical and plumbing layouts for industrial buildings or large homes, she is literally immersed in the world of plumbing and building construction, replete with pipes and their deliciously worded componentry such as elbows, couplings, reducers, olets, nipples and barbs. Erica’s paintings and sculptures marry the domestic act of sewing with the industrial world of engineering, plumbing and construction.  
Erica’s pipes have a strong life-force; they anthropomorphise into beings filled with personality. This was a deliberate move by the artist to demonstrate the desirability and appeal of soft sculpture;  
These pipes seem to crawl upon the wall like creatures out of a bizarre movie. These forms have no eyes or face to distinguish them as alive, yet seem to be. The shiny red will make you want to see your reflection as you move your face closer to its fleshy surface. Enticingly plump with puffiness, they will you to reach out and squeeze them.  
In Pipe Dreams, Erica Gray literally turns the gallery walls inside out to consider that which lurks within. Supplementing the vibrant sculptures are paintings that further explore pipe concepts. By rendering these pipes in a shiny red plastic fabric, cramming them with polyester stuffing, completing them with crazy-edged stitching, and displaying them on a white wall in a Gallery, Erica transforms something purely functional into something purely aesthetic. We do not need to understand the mechanics of water pipes – only stand before these sculptures and wonder.  
Pip Minney,  
Assistant Curator  
Gold Coast City Gallery
Soft Sculpture  
Soft sculpture was born in the 1960s out of the art movements Surrealism and Pop Art and reveals qualities of texture, pliability, and plasticity that were previously unknown in sculpture. Soft sculpture explores ideas using materials that are pliant rather than rigid. Materials with organic properties such as cloth, sisal, rope, plastic bags, fibreglass, vinyl, rubber, wool, and felt droop with the passage of time and the forces of gravity, and add another dimension to the world of sculpture. When Claes Oldenberg created “soft sculpture,” he rejected traditional “hard” materials and proceeded to engage with the tantalising new materials such as polycarbonates and polyvinyl chlorides that had been provided by the laboratories of modern science. Oldenberg found polyvinyl chloride the perfect sculptural material; colourful, shiny, and eye-catching and perfect for his monuments to the crassness of modern consumerism. Giant pillow-like hamburgers, floppy light switches and soft toilets referenced the monumentality of traditional sculpture, but their obvious softness questioned what was expected of sculpture. Although there is an element of playfulness in much soft sculpture, one of Australia’s best known exponents, Kathy Temin, uses synthetic fur fabric to create many moods in her works. Her popular work My Monument: White Fur Forest, shown in Brisbane at the Optimism show in 2008, invited us to play and explore. Another work, My Monument: Black Cube, shuts us out completely. Erica Gray fits into this soft sculpture scene like a hand into a glove. Combining a quirky sense of humour with her experience in the fashion industry, Erica produces soft sculptures that cry out to be touched. From the sensuous Felicity’s Secret (First Prize Passion and Desire exhibition 2009), to the brilliant Rock Anemone (co-winner Strand Ephemera 2011), Erica’s work is developing a stylistic fingerprint that declares it to be, unmistakably, from the mind of Erica Gray.  
Judy Hamilton  
Judy is an award winning sculptor and ceramic artist and is the former President of Sculptors Queensland. She is a current PhD candidate at the University of Queensland, researching the historical development of Brisbane's art production environment.

is an exhibition of soft sculpture & paintings that celebrate the mundane; the absurdity; the functionality ae well as the genius of the ubiquitous water pipe.

Previous displays: Works originally produced in 2011-12 for debut 2012 exhibition PIPE DREAMS at the Gold Coast City Gallery (HOTA) then listed to tour with NETS. PIPE DREAMS was exhibited at a total of five venues before being retired in 2019. My lastes exhibition listed with the NETS to tour is life.e.quatic......please email for more info.

Muswellbrook Regional Art Centre 12 Jan - 3 March 2019
Lapunyah Art Gallery 2018

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#ericagrayartist #softsculpture #sculpture #sculptureartist #textile #textileartist
#ericagrayartist #softsculpture #sculpture #sculptureartist #textile #textileartist
#ericagrayartist #softsculpture #sculpture #sculptureartist #textile #textileartist
#ericagrayartist #softsculpture #sculpture #sculptureartist #textile #textileartist
#ericagrayartist #softsculpture #sculpture #sculptureartist #textile #textileartist
#ericagrayartist #softsculpture #sculpture #sculptureartist #textile #textileartist
#ericagrayartist #softsculpture #sculpture #sculptureartist #textile #textileartist
#ericagrayartist #softsculpture #sculpture #sculptureartist #textile #textileartist
#ericagrayartist #softsculpture #sculpture #sculptureartist #textile #textileartist
#ericagrayartist #softsculpture #sculpture #sculptureartist #textile #textileartist
#ericagrayartist #softsculpture #sculpture #sculptureartist #textile #textileartist