1993 - 1995 Melbourne
Terry Batt has a waste not, want not mentality of using things that are commonly available. He repurposes things to create delightfully whimsical objects and associated meanings from junk. Terry Batt’s assemblages from the late 1980s and early 1990s also have a more serious side: they reach back to his childhood and provide insightful commentaries on his personal life, the commercial art industry and the world at large.
American artist H. C. Westermann’s (1922-81) finely crafted timber sculptures commented on salient issues, including militarism and materialism, by incorporating elements of his own life. Works by Batt, including A brush with the bratwurst, 1992, acknowledge Westermann’s influence and his 1965 signature work A Piece from the Museum of Shattered Dreams from the Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis. Batt’s Against the grain – push pull, 1992, recalls equally famous North American art such as Jasper John’s Pop-inspired US target paintings while Tall in the Saddle and Dude Ranch Dada, 1992, combine Western iconography with allusions to early 20th century art movements.
Fear of flying, 1993, is one of a set of three assemblage works that rely on their sense of verticality, coiled tension and upward thrust to convey a sense of being perched precariously in the air. This may signify the artist’s ongoing predicament – his constant travelling or leaps into the unknown – but in the sentiment of Westermann, any precise interpretation is not required. When asked about the meaning of one of his sculptures Westermann replied simply: ‘It puzzles me too’.