I wanna go home
Julie Hayward – Stift Ossiach
Silvie Aigner

Julie Hayward who was born in Salzburg in 1968 studied at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. The artist has worked with synthetic materials, metal as well as soft materials such as textile and foam. She deliberately plays with various perceptions of and the haptic qualities of surfaces along with the associations these materials trigger. Hayward’s installations comprise the media such as sculpture, drawing and photography, linking them, to quote Peter Baum, to make " unusual, philosophically oriented, techno-surreal statements". Her objects, the biomorphic structures with technoid forms constitute a significant contrast, and in recent years they have significantly shaped the notion of contemporary sculpture in Austria. The interplay of various materials as well as the perfect execution let them appear "as cosmonautic or utopian formations", as Walter Seidl has written in his text "Home Sweet Home" on Julie Hayward’s works. The scale of her sculptures reflects her own physical dimensions. This reference to human size is important to the artist, also in regard to the visitors who walk around these sculptures and perceive them in both spatial and physical terms.

Questions as to home and a sense of belonging are recurring themes in the artist’s work. In the exhibition with the title "I wanna go home" Julie Hayward addresses various aspects of "coming home". These imply desires, ideals, social codes and related illusions. Here humor plays an important role for the artist along with a critical irony, which adopts a critical distance, something that is also reflected in her titles. "Being at home in the world – or better: searching for home – also implies something unhomely or uncanny," as the cultural journalist Andreas Höll has observed. "In the familiar environment of home there always looms the unknown outside world, something alien. (...) This is the critical point from where Julie Hayward’s works take off. They play with the intricate tension between coming home and a sense of being forlorn, coming into one’s own and self-alienation, encounter with the familiar and something alienating." The uncanny is linked with familiar feelings and everyday associations and translated in an ironical-humorous way into her formal repertory. One could also say, following Lucas Gehrmann: "Julie Hayward brings two languages together, that are in an (illegitimate) disequilibrium in our civilization: the rationalist logic (as the dominant, because generally acquirable system for "describing" the world) and the (non-determinate) logic of poetic, creative, emotional thought."

In the exhibition Hayward develops an experimental set-up in which she presents possible models of relationships, placing various groups of works such as "I wanna go home", "shelter", "… elsewhere", "big mama", "Aequilibration" or "Catch me if you can" in a thematic and formal field of tension. Going beyond the mechanical process, the artist focuses on an emotional psychological level, referring specifically in "Aequilibration" to the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget who took the notion "equilibration" which originally stemmed from biology, meaning "reaching an equilibrium", and introduced it in development psychology. The object becomes fragile, and is on the verge of tumbling at any moment, with a piece already lying next to it. Apart from the thematic associations, the stability immanent in sculpture is done away with. In this particular context Julie Hayward is mainly interested in the process that is necessary to maintain a balance with respect to the environment, society or to one’s own emotionality. At the same time her sculptures do show that this state of stability can always only be attained for a short moment.

The individual balls of the sculptures titled "… elsewhere" and "big mama" in the music room symbolize the components of the self that always have to be collected again. The sculpture "big mama" clearly demonstrates the ambivalence of interpretation that is so typical of Julie Hayward’s works. On the one hand, the title recalls the origin of life, while on the other hand the form of the object certainly conveys something aggressive, martial-technical. This is contrasted by the lightness of "… elsewhere". The title of the sculpture already points to a different place, which remains diffuse. It is not clear whether this implies something familiar or something unknown. While the balls of "big mama" seem to be covered by a secure shell, those of "… elsewhere" begin to move through the threads, only to then be carefully stowed away in bowls. Both works also address the poles of emotional consciousness between an introverted stance and a dynamic movement to the outside, which alludes to yet another level with the view of the sea. The sculpture "shelter" in the entrance hall also promises a refuge, but at the same time this contrasts with the surface that recalls a therapeutic or orthopedic aid and the black inner life of the sculpture. In the two new works "I wanna go home" and "Catch me if you can" the individual balls coalesce to form a thick mass which keeps transforming itself, changing and ultimately can no longer be grasped.

"Catch me if you can" once again addresses the motif of equilibrium. The sculpture alludes to an intention, capturing a state – even if it is only a moment – and not allowing any changes. The self, however, has its own life and opposes any attempt to be brought into form from the outside. The work after which the exhibition is named – "I wanna go home" recalls a tilting launch pad or "the shell of an aircraft stuck to the ground and melting. The inner life has already departed. One part had to stay behind – or has the attempt to take off completely failed?" (Julie Hayward) Moreover, the object also questions the idea of reaching home in death, in which such an "arrival home" is definitive. Yet the object also looks like an oil drilling platform, which assumes something intrinsic through the material and its size. Here it becomes clear that the artist does not want to give any interpretations for her objects and that heterogeneous themes influence the shape form takes. At the Stift Ossiach the sculpture extending upwards also merges with the apotheosis of the Benediktus hall, thus assuming new possible meanings.

The presentation of drawings in the music room suggests that Julie Hayward first conceives of her objects in the medium of drawing, with not all sculptures "developed" or "conceived" on paper are actually translated into reality or also new forms emerge in the implementation. Julie Hayward has described the development of sculptures by means of the graphic procedure as "automatic" or "automatistic", thus referring to the immediacy of the process of drawing. Most drawings are created on a DIN A4 format type writing paper and are worked over with fine liner or ink. Yet even if the selection of paper would allude to something resembling just a sketch, the drawings that are always so perfectly executed evade interpretation as something that has been quickly noted or designed. Instead, they represent a connection between outer and inner imagery. "Here one has dreams in site / time / space that flow between various dimensions, triggering an exchange between external and inner imagery and sometimes even relating a continuous story. (...) Even with all their irony and also humor, Julie Hayward’s sculptures do not just boil down to a shallow illustration of psychoanalytic, biotechnical, media theoretical discourses. They are open enough to create links with still unconscious manifestations of reality."

In the outer space, the exhibition is rounded off by a stone sculpture with the title "SBKT190508". The sculpture was created with Krastal marble during the "Pathfinder" symposium that took place at the Lauster quarry in Krastal near Treffen, in the region that is close to Ossiach. The sculpture was not made from a given cut block but from an erratic block. The artist first made a drawing and then looked for a suitable stone in the quarry to then be able to implement her idea. "I wanted to include the material and to reveal various aspects but I didn’t want to cut a certain form. The stone was supposed to have angles and sides so that openings could be added for the metal tubes. From these tubes ’the stone in a sense leaks’, creating puddles at the end of the tubes. I wanted to contrast the pathos, which for me had been associated with the material until then with something amusing and to do this in an unusual scale. While preparing the piece, I spent a lot of time studying the documentation of meteorites. They were often named after the places where they were found and referred to by the date of their discovery. SBKT thus stands for Steinbruch (quarry) Krastal and 190508 is the date, May 19, 2008, when we found the right block for my sculpture."

1 Peter Baum, Julie Hayward, in: Katalog Museum Liaunig, Neuhaus/Suha 2008, S. 182.
2 Walter Seidl, "Home Sweet Home" – the Irony of Feelings", exhibition folder, Projektraum Viktor Bucher, Vienna 2007 (n. p.).
3 Andreas Höll, "’Coming Home’ or: Arriving on Foreign Shores", in: Julie Hayward, Skulpturen und Zeichnungen / Sculptures and Drawings, Vienna 2005, S. 6.
4 Lucas Gehrmann, Aequlibration II, exhibition folder, Projektraum Viktor Bucher, Vienna 2007 (n. p.).
5 Andreas Höll, "’Coming Home’ or: Arriving on Foreign Shores", in: Julie Hayward, Skulpturen und Zeichnungen / Sculptures and Drawings, Vienna 2005, S. 8–9.