Ernesto Neto’s The Island Bird at the National Gallery of Victoria: Photo Essay

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The Island Bird by Ernesto Neto

The other day I wrote about Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto and his amazing installations that often use olfactory elements. Neto has been known to use large quantities of spice inside his sculptural, multi-sensory works. His pieces encourage engagement and interaction and can be touched, climbed in and upon, and often smelled.

The Island Bird by Ernesto Neto

The Island Bird by Ernesto Neto

Olly Technic and I visited The Island Bird at the National Gallery of Victoria the other day. The piece is a recent acquisition for the NGV, and will only be on display until the 19th of April, so if you’re in Melbourne, or visiting, and like good art, head along to the St Kilda Road gallery and check it out.

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The Island Bird by Ernesto Neto

I wasn’t sure if Neto had used any olfactory elements in The Island Bird, but sadly he didn’t. Nevertheless, Olly and I had a great time climbing inside Neto’s beautiful piece, which was knotted out of muted shades of primary-coloured rope. The floor of the piece was filled with squishy plastic balls, and it was hard work to move around inside the tunnels, a bit like walking on very loose sand, but much more difficult. We held on to the netting to help us move around, and in the back of the piece found a circular, cushioned area to sit in. It was lovely sitting in this spot, suspended in the air; a bit like being on a very large swing or on a boat with a subtle rocking motion.

Olly sitting inside The Island Bird

Olly sitting inside The Island Bird

I didn’t feel even slightly ill at ease or unsafe in The Island Bird. I think my childlike curiosity and excitement got the better of me and I forgot to feel afraid, which made for a very joyful, playful experience.

Polly Technic inside The Island Bird

Polly Technic inside The Island Bird

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Detail of the ceiling of The Island Bird

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Squishy plastic balls fill the sculpture

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Walking through a tunnel in The Island Bird

The Island Bird is currently on display at NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road Melbourne, until the 19th April 2015. You can find it on the third floor.

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