Blue Jay Way
3 March–24 June 2007
Heide Museum of Modern Art
18 August–14 October 2007
Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest
Heide Curators: Zara Stanhope, Deputy Director, Senior Curator, Linda Short, Acting Curator
Penrith Curator: Anne Loxley, Acting Gallery Manager
Excerpt from Sue Pedley: Blue Jay Way
by Jacqueline Millner
‘Blue jay way’: the phrase is highly musical in its rhyme and rhythm, almost like a birdcall. The Blue Jay is a species of North American bird, renowned for its brilliant blue markings and gull-like screech. The bird lent its name to a street in the chic heights of Los Angeles, where George Harrison wrote a song while waiting for a friend. Blue Jay Way was released on The Beatles’ psychedelic album Magical Mystery Tour in 1967, the same year Heide II (as the modern house on John and Sunday Reed’s Heide property is now known) was completed. With its reference to human and bird song, the title of Sue Pedley’s exhibition at Heide Museum of Modern Art and Penrith Regional Gallery and The Lewers Bequest reflects the artist’s attempts to evoke in her work both the cultural and natural context of these two sacred sites of Australian modernism.
Blue Jay Way (2006) comprises one hundred blue plastic buckets: fifty inscribed in perforations with the titles of Beatles songs, fifty with the phonetic denotations of particular birdcalls. Either stacked into columns that seem to mimic architectural supports or appearing in stark contrast to the trees to which they are attached, the buckets wend their way around the gardens and courtyards of Heide and Lewers, creating new pathways of engagement for the viewer. The appearance of these banal, synthetic objects amongst the highly-regarded outdoor sculptures and gardens may appear irreverent to those for whom the significance of Lewers and Heide lies in a fixed idea of the modernist art they helped nurture. That provocation is intentional, as the artist is attempting to insert fresh currents of thought into these sites and their well worn histories. The interactivity that the buckets invite is an integral part of this process. With their resemblance to a helmet in their form and use, and therefore closely referencing Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly, the inverted buckets serve as a prop for the inventive play that animates the experience of these artworks.
Dr Jacqueline Millner, Lecturer, School of Humanities and Languages, University of Western Sydney
Jacqueline Millner, ‘Sue Pedley: Blue Jay Way’, Blue Jay Way, Sue Pedley, exh. cat., Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne and Penrith Regional Gallery and The Lewers Bequest, Emu Plains NSW, 2007.