wood, metal, cotton, dacron, satin, perspex, painted walls
dimensions variable 370.0 (h) x 200.0 (w) x 230.0 (d) cm
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Through the 1990s to the present, Rosslynd Piggott has worked in a diverse range of media, including installation. Her work is in part inspired by the Symbolists and Surrealists―particularly the Surrealist poets. Her connection with the surreal dimension, and her interest in the unconscious mind, is integrated with her own distinctive vision; informed by personal experience and her capacity for introspection and flights of imagination.
High bed 1998 is a striking example of Piggott’s poetic sensibility. The work has literal, metaphorical and contradictory dimensions. A bed is often considered a place of rest and comfort―as suggested in the soft downy fabric draped over it. On the other hand, the vertiginous nature of the high bed also induces a degree of uncertainty and anxiety. As the artist recalls, the initial inspiration for the work occured during a residency in Paris at the Cité des Internationale des Arts:
‘When I lay in that bed during the night, my thoughts and impressions of the Parisian day would collect in my head in an intense over-abundance. Somehow, on occasion, that overabundance would transfer itself to the furniture―the bed would swell, the building would weigh itself against my chest. The relationship between mind and object was transferred, fluid and shifting.’
Dramatic dislocations in scale are expressed in the contrast between the bed and the tiny shoes and small white house. The large mirror floating above the bed is partly a distancing device. It enables us to look back in on the work. It also creates an intangible dimension, adding to the sense of a dream which permeates the whole.
Dr Deborah Hart
Australian Painting and Sculpture post-1920
National Gallery of Australia
Rosslynd Piggott, ‘Rosslynd Piggott: High bed’ in Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002, p 407