Exhibitions / Glimmer (Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney, NSW)

22.06.2019 to 20.07.2019

Glimmer is a return to painting – a reconsideration of the role of colour, surface, scale and application in a non-sculptural format. In making the works I’ve had to contend with the reality that they are what they are without reference to much in the world, trying to initiate a kind of possession in the process. Getting them to draw breath.

They manifest as enlarged painted facsimiles of covers of the journal ‘Glimmer’ (2001-16).

In January 2001, with the demise of the printed magazine at least a decade away, renegade Australian academic John Rutgers launched five new self-funded niche-interest journals. His hope was that each would contribute to a reawakening of interest in ‘peripheral pop academia,’ where marginal, often pseudoscientific fields of enquiry were exposed and popularised. He was ambitious in his reach but overestimated the potential readership for the specific concerns that each journal addressed, and a combination of rising debt and ill health led him to close four of them in the first year. The remaining journal, however, survived, limping along for the next fifteen years until it too was eventually abandoned in late 2016.

It was called ‘Glimmer.’ Rutgers positioned the bi-monthly publication to cover sensory phenomena that occur at the edge of perception, with a focus on visual distortions and irregularities. The journal’s title was inspired by Rutgers fascination with Tennyson’s poem ‘Merlin and the Gleam,’ which traces the passage of fleeting inspiration, and urges its following. 

Late last year, after more than a couple of years spent guiltily squeezing my own books into empty spots in my son’s bedroom shelves, I decided to do a bit of a clean out. As I stood staring at the shelves not knowing where to start, I noticed an ungainly stack of decayed hardbacks perched right at the top. ‘Occult Phenomena in the Light of Theology,’ ‘The Gate of Remembrance, and ‘For Sinners Only.’ I’d used them as props in the staging of the fictional museum exhibit ‘The Devil’s Spit’ in Ballarat a few years prior. I’d collected them for their titles, and they’d been left unread. My attention was drawn to one in particular, it had a coloured cloth cover that was probably once a brilliant turquoise, but because of its advanced state of dilapidation it was more of a ghostly grey. I could just make out its title embossed in a faint gold: ‘The Gleam,’ by Sir Francis Younghusband. Its rippled and yellowed pages held the beliefs of a man called Nija Svabhava, who the author had apparently met on his travels through India. Svabhava was a ‘follower’ of ‘The Gleam,’ here interpreted as ecstatic religious enlightenment. Svabhava, as it turned out decades later, was entirely fictitious, a voice for Younghusband.

Chris Bond, 2019