16th January - 19th January
Art Stage Singapore 2014: The Hangman's Scaffold
Jasper Knight Isabelle Toland


Jasper Knight and Isabelle Toland
The Hangman's Scaffold
Dimensions variable

Jasper Knight is represented by Australian Galleries in Sydney and Melbourne

Install image at Tin Sheds Gallery by Toby Dixon Photography


The Hangman’s Scaffold is a sculptural installation which forms part of the ongoing collaborative practice of Sydney-based artist Jasper Knight and architect Isabelle Toland. The installation is their fifteenth collaborative work.

Toland is a practicing architect who has made a number of architectural or design-based works which cross over between technical practice and artistic production. Knight is well-known for his painting oeuvre which captures imagery from industrial or engineering worlds, including high-performance sports cars, highway overpasses and maritime infrastructure. Painted in a gestural style with dynamic dripwork, these images are placed simultaneously on top of and within a range of juxtaposed material surfaces, wood, Perspex, pegboard, copper.

For a number of years Knight has worked collaboratively with Toland to extend his work beyond this frame, into the three-dimensional realm of sculptural installation. These works have been marked by a Pop-inspired use of everyday items, most available from your average hardware super-supplier. In previous works they have used watering-cans to create an outdoor room; built a giant mosquito out of bins, brooms, ladders; a ping pong table from pvc piping and a metal roadwork sign; installed digital traffic message boards throughout Sydney CBD with humorous observations and friendly faces; and created an origami whale from recycled hardwood installed on the Newcastle Foreshore. The sculptural pieces they make together combine their interest in found-materials and architectural techniques with a desire to play with scale and to recreate familiar objects in a simple and surprising fashion.

Whilst travelling throughout Asia, Knight and Toland were particularly inspired by the use of bamboo scaffolding – especially in Hong Kong where the trade continues to be widely used. Nicknamed ‘spiders’, Hong Kong’s death-defying bamboo scaffolders remain a common sight, creeping up constructions across the city skyline. It was thought in the 195Os that bamboo scaffolding was on the way to extinction, but it has proven highly resilient and remains a visual oddity amongst the high-tech glass and steel of Asian metropolises.

The idea of scaffolding is one which plays with notions of strength and support. The link between scaffolding and the art of the spider lies in the gravity-defying magic of web-like constructions. The natural strength of spider’s silk is such that it is gaining use in medical technology (it is a natural protein that is six times as strong as high-tensile steel, resilient and bio-resorbable), and yet it might be seen that within this celebration of the form of the scaffold/web, there is a tension with the fear-provoking spider’s web and the dark history of that other famous scaffold – the hangman’s gallows.

This installation is part of a larger project in which Knight and Toland continue their collaboration. It was previously created for Tin Sheds Gallery at the University of Sydney and Paradise Hills Gallery in Melbourne; and was originally funded by an Established Artist Grant from the Australia Council for the Arts.