Steelo is a sculptural meditation on the intersection between domestic labour, industrial production and modern art. Through her use of steel wool, Carolyn Menzies explores the dual nature of steel’s materiality: the soft flexibility of kitchen scouring pads, a symbol of feminine labour, in contrast to the hard edged forms of modernism. Her tenderly swaddled forms recall the softness and sensitivity of wool, countering the industrial abrasiveness of steel through the act of binding.

If steel stands as a signifier of industrialisation and alienation from the natural environment, then Menzies’ wrapping, lopping, knitting and knotting of steel wool to create organic forms gently undermines this narrative and suggests an alternative, more mutable world.

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Carolyn Menzies, Steelo, 2019. Image courtesy the maker

Carolyn Menzies studied sculpture at the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts and completed her MA in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins, London, in 2001. She has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in New Zealand, Australia and the UK. Her most recent achievements include; finalist Deakin Contemporary Small Sculpture Award, artist residency at Linden New Art and an upcoming residency with the Australia Tapestry Workshop. She lives in Melbourne with her partner and two children. Her work often incorporates unusual and diverse materials and conveys a poetic fascination with processes of transformation.