History in a Box
Maurie Hughes sees beauty in the everyday treasures he finds.
The studio of installation artist and sculptor Maurie Hughes is a cross between a factory, a museum and a garage in dire need of a cleanout. There are pigeon holes crammed with tools, scraps of metal, fragments of strange things, feathers, trout flies, sea urchins etc.
The studio is part of his residence where he has lived for more than 40 years, it could be seen as his resume/curriculum vitae of his life’s work to date. Initially, the output consisted of carefully crafted boxes that contained all manner of artefacts/memorabilia all of which have gained a preciousness through being placed in said boxes. Mostly these materials are found/discovered on journeys to the bush and beyond. More recently some of these “found” objects have become histories in their own right, appearing as small wall-mounted sculptures.
Thinking about History in a Box.
We have a habit of discarding things (stuff) which are no longer useful, broken or lost their purpose. But the jettisoning process often leads to various objects acquiring a “patina of time” which draws us into queries about original function, the “journey” experienced by each object and subsequently another/different value is sometimes perceived. It’s quite a fulfilling experience to realize that so-called worthless things can in fact have a presence not previously known. This is where History in a Box operates.
So, what have you got that deserves to “become” precious?
History in a Box, a process that finds value in valueless things, and, makes precious objects more precious.
Maurie says, his work would not be possible without the Australian outback, “which simultaneously makes me feel inconspicuously small and outrageously grand, just through the simple act of standing in it”.