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Nominated by Gael Newton AM


Isobel Knowles and Van Sowerwine’s practice blends three-dimensional miniatures, photography and animation in unique and emotionally charged, surreal environments. Their commissioned work delves into the psychological impact of lockdown in Melbourne. Knowles and Sowerwine each created miniature versions of the rooms in which they spent the bulk of lockdown. These sculptures are fi lled with personal items found in makeshift live-work-play spaces, evoking memories of our collective confi nement, where the boundaries between work and home lives had to blur. Through these works, Knowles and Sowerwine refl ect upon the dislocation they felt when separated from each other.


‘As collaborative artists we normally spend time in the same physical space to create work, experiencing the room, the energy and the interruptions together in one space. During the pandemic we were forced apart, our screen-based connection becoming our only window with which to access each other’s workspaces and life beyond 5km. Simultaneously we became deeply embedded within our immediate physical environments with every detail of every item etched into our minds, like familiar landmarks. For this commission we rebuilt these rooms from memory, without our usual precise measuring and referencing of the furniture or objects, re-constructing our interior psychological spaces in miniature. These miniature works and the subsequent photographs of our imagined selves in these spaces serve as a personal memorial or time-capsule of a year where the entire world shifted.’ (Knowles and Sowerwine, 2021)


The miniatures created for the commission are embedded into the gallery wall and can be peered into and through, towards the photographic installation behind. This installation reflects the artists’ separation, the constraint on their collaborative practice and their differing emotional and physical experiences during lockdown.


In her nomination Gael Newton AM commented that


‘… the miniature narrative has also been powerfully used to express views of how the world is – or might be ...Constructed tableaux are forms of transmission or subversion of cultural values. They are usually patiently constructed; an illusion of realism is present but not the point’. (Newton, 2020).


Knowles and Sowerwine’s practice blends miniatures, photography and animation, sparking one’s imagination and opening up unexpected emotional responses.


‘Miniatures bridge the gap between on and off screen reality, disrupting normal perception to create signifi cant narrative engagement. Our work investigates narratives of belonging, solitude and metamorphosis, engaging viewers immersively and emotionally.’ (Knowles and Sowerwine, 2020)



The world came rushing in 2021

from the series Can’t do without you

pigment ink-jet print

56.0 x 71.0 cm

courtesy of the artists

The miniatures in the gallery wall are made by two artists working together. They show how each of the artists lived in their individual homes during lockdown.


The artists, Isobel Knowles and Van Sowerwine, built these miniature rooms from memory, without looking at or referencing any of the objects.


Which room is most similar to yours?

Make a list of all the things that you can see in both Isobel’s room and Van’s room.

How many of those things do you have too?


Tethered 2021

from the series Can’t do without you

two-channel video installation

6 minutes

courtesy of the artists

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