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Water, Earth, Fire, Air   unglazed clay, metal, wood



Ocean, River, Sea   water (video, 8 minutes)





For many years I have been collecting small snatches of water movement, shot from a fixed, hand held position and sourced from rivers and sea shores across the world. This rough quality footage, captured by a standard definition compact digital camera, reveals the constant and quintessential element that engages with me throughout my journeys. I live in the desert, but it is water, not earth that has grounded me when I am far from home.
Night Vessel   clay, metal, water (HD video, 24 minutes)









The dark of an unlit space becomes the night sky flecked with stars, or a vastness beyond our understanding through which particles of matter surge and swirl with no apparent meaning other than the fact of existence. Then that most compelling of images, the human face. It seems to have emerged from a frozen past, at once aged and ageless. As the figure is revealed at threequarter length, it appears to be holding up a boat, childlike in its unseeing acceptance of an impossible task – keeping the boat afloat on the dark sea, in the implacable night. Surely the boat will sink but, as we stay for the journey, that is not what happens.

A strength of McManus’s imagery is its susceptibility to many interpretations. The boat can suggest the endeavour and hope that must accompany life’s journey. In its course, the human little by little must cede to the seething void, to extinguishment – the mound of clay particles shed by the figure grow in the boat like ash in a funerary urn. Its stoic perseverance can express assent to the terms of life; it can also conjure this historic moment when we are seeing ever more refugees put to sea.

In Night Vessel the boat endures – the creaking, grinding persistence of human culture and history. The figure is returned to ‘the dust’ from whence it came. Such is our individual human cycle, eclipsed by the greater movements of history and even greater cycles of the natural world, given dramatic expression in the final moments of this work.

McManus, who has largely made her home in the dry centre of Australia since 1981, keeps her artist’s eye on far horizons. Knowing that there is no sheltering in the desert from what is happening there, she journeys out.

(Extract from Catalogue Essay, Kieran Finnane)