Pretty Air and Useful Things

Curated by Rosemary Forde
Monash University Museum of Art
Installation View

Installation view

Focussing on the invisible forces, transgressive processes, and anarchic approaches to materials in sculptural practice, Pretty Air and Useful Things invokes the magnetism and friction of objects, and our relationship to them.

Featuring artists Dan Bell, Sanné Mestrom and Alex Vivian, Pretty Air and Useful Things presents sculptural and installation works that reference the body through form, clothing, stains or scent; and the utilitarian via elements of design and commodity. In the spaces between are processes of speculation, transference, fermentation, connection, function and distortion. Using a combination of found, adapted and handmade materials, the intangible, perhaps mystical, qualities of objects are suggested.

(From museum media)

…Sanné Mestrom relates her sculptural pieces to the canon of modern art and design from the first half of the 20th century, but gives her work a contemporary twist.


Sanné Mestrom Muse 1, Muse 2 2012 (detail) marble, timber dimensions variable

In Muse 1, Muse 2 2012 a pair of marble heads loosely based on Brancusi’s sleeping muses have been carved using traditional techniques and then brought into the present through a gently humourous intervention – two cartoon smiley faces that have been lightly carved onto the surface of the heads. Mestrom’s artwork suggests a fl ow of art into everyday life and vice versa.



Sanné Mestrom Travellers 2012 (detail) found object, spray paint, timber 160.0 x 20.0 x 30.0 cm

In Travellers 2012 Mestrom has altered a pair of art-deco style tea-cups and saucers which she found in an op-shop. By lightly spray-painting these objects, Mestrom liberates these discarded domestic objects from utility and transforms them into art.



In Grosenberg 2012 Mestrom samples modernism with humor. To signal her new approach, the title of the work, Grosenberg is a combination of two opposing modernist art critics, Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg. The artwork itself appears at first glance to be a modernist coffee table, but the hand-cast bronze vessels cutting through the marble surface teeter


Grosenberg 2012 marble, acrylic, stainless steel, bronze, ceramic 120.0 x 70.0 x 56.0 cm

between utility and non-utility. Through her strategy of appropriating and reframing the history of art and design, Mestrom confounds our existing relationship with modernism. She takes the things that modernists devoted their lives to and presents them with a sense of irony. In doing so she opens up questions about the way contemporary artists exploit stylistic influences and play with notions of originality.



Muse 1, 2012 marble, timber dimensions variable

Mestrom_A1sm_grey_2   Mestrom_F1sm_grey