Simryn Gill Garland 1993–2006

Simryn Gill
Garland 1993–2006
Things collected from beaches at Port Dickson, Malaysia and southern islands off Singapore
Dimensions variable
Photo © Tate 2006
Courtesy Albion, London
With thanks to Anthony Lau, Antony Parkes, Sigurd Pedersen and Glenn Pereyra

Garland consists of hundreds of objects Gill has collected over fifteen years from the beaches of Malaysia and islands off southern Singapore. Yet only recently have they been bought together and categorised collectively as an artwork – a status achieved only by displacing the collection from its original context. The materials are presented on a table surrounded by stools on which the viewer sits. Individually the objects demand a peculiar kind of categorisation: deeply worn by wind and sea, they can seldom be defined by their original state or function. The human-made and the natural have become interchangeable.

Despite the largeness of the collection, the individual forms were all selected in their own right – colour, shape or texture singling something out for the artist’s pocket. Personal experiences on the beach are recalled as we sift through pebbles and smoothed glass and begin to categorise and order them – which, of course, we do according to our own experience. Yet our own histories are not the only ones evoked. Collected by Gill, and travelling from south to north, the objects have made shifts in place, time and identity far beyond geography. They exist as residues: but of what else, and where else?