Ant Hamlyn Terrarium

15. Mar '2413. Apr '24
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By Appointment Only

Weserstr. 56
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Terrariums, a magical accident of the Victorian era, act as Ant Hamlyn’s main point of reference for this series of work. Creating ‘miniature worlds’, Hamlyn captures these ecosystems, as botanicals hand-sewn of soft velvets and polyurethane-coated fabrics are pressed tightly behind Perspex. Simultaneously, they appear to lean into and repel their confines. Paused in motion, they threaten to spill from the sides but instead are caught, teasing the edge of a petal or limb. 

Chilling. Freezing. Sugaring. Salting. Canning. Pressing. Pickling. Sealing. Grasping something in the act of turning – right at the peak of its existence. The sweetest taste of the ripest fruit, the perfect bloom of a flower or unfurled leaf. To press pause on perfection is an endeavour of human desire that unrelenting persists. The problem with preservation is that in pursuing it, we can alter what we seek to capture, turning it sickeningly sweet or salty with brine. Retaining its condition at the cost of its presence, beyond touch or smell, held apart from us to maintain its perfection.

In constructing these little worlds. Meticulously sewn succulents, fungi, and flowers bow into and under one another across the works, reaching outwards in the suggestion of an endless expansion. In one work, a collection of carnivorous plants (Venus fly traps and sundews) push back at their encasement. Flytraps are pinned at their most animated and vulnerable. Mouths perpetually a-jar in an uncanny stillness. Behind the Perspex, the texturally complex work is held back from touch. Sharp cactus spines made of wooden sticks protrude from the sewn forms, but the threat of their spikes is dulled behind the screen. These contrasts are ever-present in Hamlyn’s work, spikey and smooth, joyful and morbid, the garish colour of PVC against the seductive quality of velvet.

The works explore terrariums as domestic objects but also delve deeper into ideas of temporality. Preservation, the action of pause, makes the presence of time even more persistent. In refusing mortality, the ever-looming threat of death presses closer. The works encapsulate the human need to keep things, to maintain beauty and to halt the passing of time. Hamlyn’s bright fabrics create a cheerful façade that is underpinned by a longing for a moment that doesn’t exist.

Text by Olivia Rumsey
Photos by

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