'The Ants are in the Idiom' opens at the Buxton

A major solo exhibition by influential Australian-born, London-based artist Susan Jacobs, commissioned by and opening at Buxton Contemporary Gallery at the University of Melbourne on this Friday, 3 June until 6 November 2022.

Susan Jacobs’ first presentation in Melbourne since 2017, and her largest solo commission to date, The ants are in the idiom is an expansive sculptural environment that explores the relationship between language and matter.

Jacobs works with form in the way that poets work with words, finding analogies and metaphorical meanings in everyday objects and materials. In her work, a simple sculptural form often has multiple layers of meaning, from its material properties to its cultural significance.

The guiding principle in this exhibition is the quirks and failings of human perception. For Jacobs’, there is great imaginative potential in misinterpretation.

In her words, “the human tendency to seek patterns in random information can see false conclusions dressed as ‘signs from the universe’. The temptation to form links where there are none is a human trait, both flawed and psychologically affirming. The double take or misapprehension that happens in such chance encounters sharpens consciousness and unleashes the magic of the mind’s invention.’’

Pictured (left to right): 'Crow tools and the worm turns' (2018), 'Act super natural' (2018), 'A recipe for scorpions' (2021)

Describing the exhibition as “a series of overlapping ecosystems”, Jacobs has created a matrix of sculptural relationships that encourage accidental connections and a shifting array of understandings.

The ants are in the idiom is both playful and erudite. Allusions to science, psychology and mythology jostle with visual puns and word games.

The ants are in the idiom is a rhizomatic sculptural network that stimulates a process of associative looking in the viewer. The exhibition could be read as an allegory for a way of working as an artist or, on a more universal level, for the human drive to make meaning of our surroundings,’’ says curator Jacqueline Doughty.

Susan Jacobs will be presenting a floor talk at Buxton Contemporary on Saturday 11 June at 2.15pm - don't miss out!


Dates: 3 June till 6 November 2022

Times: Wed – Sun 11am – 5pm

Location: Buxton Contemporary, the University of Melbourne Cnr Dodds St & Southbank Blvd, Southbank

Cost: Free

Buxton Contemporary Website