Emily Floyd, The Garden (here small gestures make complex structures), 2012

recycled timbers, wool felt, beeswax, fabric, baked ink

Part of Melbourne-based artist, Emily Floyd’s ongoing sculptural project, The Garden (here small gestures make complex structures) examines typography, literature, philosophy and concepts of space. In the Bella Room she has created a sensory environment, providing new possibilities for experiencing language. Tactile objects are made from recycled rare and common timbers, raw and polished with beeswax, smooth and rough, each providing a variety of creative opportunities for touch, exploration and play.

Education and knowledge are key themes in Floyd’s work and interaction is a fundamental part of the process of engagement. A long-standing interest in education philosophies informs the material and spatial ideas in this work, in particular the work of Croatian philosopher Rudolf Steiner (1864-1924). Steiner’s distinctive approach to education advocates a curriculum where the academic, artistic and social aspects (the head, heart and hands) are treated as complementary components to learning.

Central to The Garden (here small gestures make complex structures) are two figures based on French artist Jean-Francois Millet’s 1857 painting, The Gleaners. Millet’s painting represents the hardship of peasant life. The gleaners were considered the poorest of the working class, those who did not own land and survived by gathering leftovers from the harvest. Floyd recasts the gleaners in an optimistic vision of common space, shared and not owned, surrounded by a bountiful garden full of knowledge and wonder.

The artist has also introduced elements of Braille into her work. Each Braille character is made up of six tactile dot positions arranged in a rectangle and readable by touch. Floyd’s Braille sculptures, blocks and cushions provide opportunity for people who are blind or vision impaired to experience the work, and a way for everyone to experiment and communicate ideas using this unique language system.

Emily Floyd’s Garden reminds us of our collective social responsibilities, the importance of sharing knowledge and space and celebrates creativity in all individuals.

Karen Hall, Touring Exhibitions & Projects Manager


Emily Floyd in Artist’s Voice

Running Time: 8:44

Emily Floyd talks about her practice and her work The Garden (here small gestures make complex structures) 2012. The Garden was commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art, on the occasion of the opening of the new MCA, March 2012.

Artist’s Voice is supported by the Copyright Agency Limited.


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I hope that my installation for the Bella Room will offer young visitors to the MCA the opportunity to communicate and work with sculpture in challenging and unexpected ways.

Emily Floyd

Emily Floyd Installation – The Garden (here small gestures make complex structures) 2012

Images: all installation views, Jackson Bella Room, National Centre for Creative Learning, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, 2012
Images courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery © the artist