Exhibition • Touring

Mel O' Callaghan
Centre of the Centre

16 Apr 2021 – 16 Apr 2023

Above: Mel O'Callaghan, Centre of the Centre, installation view, Artspace, Sydney, 2019

Centre of the Centre is a major new commission that traces the origins of life and its regenerative forces, iterated through video, performance and sculpture. The exhibition was presented at Artspace, Sydney in 2019 and at The University of Queensland Art Museum in 2020-2021, before touring nationally from early 2021.

The Australian-born, Paris-based contemporary artist works across film, performance, installation and painting. This ambitious commission offers O’Callaghan an opportunity to further explore her ever-expanding fields of influence and demonstrates the remarkable range of her artistic practice. Centre of the Centre is O’Callaghan’s first largescale exhibition in an Australian public institution. The exhibition comprises three distinct yet interrelated works – a large-scale video work, a performative aspect and selected glass sculptures.

The catalyst for this body of work was one small mineral given to the artist by her grandfather, renowned mineralogist Albert Chapman. The mineral contains a small pocket of water, possibly millions of years old, which holds traces of the elemental forces responsible for all life on earth. Inspired by the potentialities and extreme conditions within this primordial liquid, the exhibition submerges the audience in a highly visceral experience through sensory breathing techniques and experiential performance.


Past Locations

Goulburn Regional Art Gallery
16 Apr – 12 Jun 2021
Umbrella Studio Contemporary Arts, Townsville, QLD
10 Jul – 9 Aug 2021
Glasshouse, Port Macquarie, NSW
11 Sep – 7 Nov 2021
Western Plains Cultural Centre, NSW
20 Nov 2021 – 27 Feb 2022
Anne & Gordon Samstag Museum of Art, SA
1 Jul – 30 Sep 2022
Hyphen Wodonga, VIC
19 Nov 2022 – 29 Jan 2023
Wagga Wagga Art Gallery, NSW
11 Feb – 16 Apr 2023
Mel O’Callaghan’s Centre of the Centre was curated and developed by Artspace and is touring nationally with Museums & Galleries of NSW. Centre of the Centre is co-commissioned by Le Confort Moderne, Poitiers; Artspace, Sydney; and The University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane. With Commissioning Partners Andrew Cameron AM & Cathy Cameron and Peter Wilson & James Emmett; and Lead Supporter, Kronenberg Mais Wright. The development and presentation of Centre of the Centre is supported by the Fondation des Artistes, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and the US National Science Foundation. This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.