These Youngsters have uncanny, yet acceptable, presence in an urban environment. Passersby may think they see a familiar scene in a familiar bronze sculpture, but the stasis, scale and the detail rupture such familiarity, creating a re-engagement with the objects and their surroundings.
– Vi Virgis and Adam Porter, Curators
Caroline Rothwell’s two Youngsters in Barrack Street play on the monumentalism of bronze sculpture in urban spaces, as well as preconceptions about identity.
Youngsters stand within the trajectory of monumental bronze sculpture. The drapery, the shoes, and the contrapposto of one figure, are all influenced by art history from ancient classical sculpture to Rodin. Yet the forms, the baggy pants, hoodies, Dolce & Gabbana shoes, and handstand of the other figure, are contemporary.
The figures undermine expectations and subvert stereotypes. They represent small children dressed in hoodies and baggy jeans; one standing, the other hand-standing. They are purposefully diminutive; vulnerable, yet powerful.
Upon closer inspection, the standing child has plaited hair, further undermining social expectations. The interiors of the hoods and clothes are coated with casts of quartz and coal, making a subtle comment upon Australia’s mineral economy.
Caroline Rothwell lives and works in Sydney. She works in two and three dimensions, often using unique fabrication methods. Youngsters are a continuum of the themes Rothwell has been exploring in her recent work, with the surreal and fictitious encroaching on the realistic and scientific.
Youngsters was first shown as part of the Laneways Temporary Art Program 5 on view from October 2012- January 2013. This popular work was subsequently acquired into the City of Sydney collection.