“The whole is other than the sum of its parts”

A new commission, ready

Gracia Haby & Louise Jennison
A Weight of Albatross
Maroondah City Council’s new library, cultural, knowledge and innovation centre Ringwood Town Square, Victoria

A weight of albatross have been cut and protective-film peeled, weighed (naturally) for suspension, their centre point of gravity found, marked, drilled, and worked with rather than against. A weight of albatross have been strung into pairs, ready for installation. Citrus and Saffron, Azure and Sapphire, Lime and Sandstone, and so on and so on. A weight of albatross have been polished, ready to reflect light and colour in the staircase of Realm, which links the exhibition space with the library, which links the library with all the many things that occur in a many-purposed new community hub.


A weight of albatross are ready to go, as soon as an installation date is set, and we cannot wait to see them in their new home. A commission created especially for the light-filled space, in Ringwood, we can, for now, only imagine how they will spin in the space, thanks to many, many bearings placed from the top stainless steel birds to Arctic Blue with her outstretched wings at the bottom.

Making sure each bird within the collage balanced not just visually but in a mechanical sense lest the work wobble askew was one of our favourite components. Each bird plays a role in the balance, each weight is required; with the removal of one bird, the whole balance shifts, and this puzzle, this metaphor, this truism is pleasing. The two stainless steel birds hold each other perpendicular and taunt. The fourteen smaller birds cut from coloured sheets of frosted Perspex follow suit in a four-line scales balance. In the air, a pair of scales, a hover of wings, and something to behold come mid June, 2018. An orchestration of parts, why, Kurt Koffka, it is almost Gestalt psychology, when an arrangement of birds determines which form you see, and the form you see determines how you interpret the parts, or have we bent your words to suit our intention?


Sliding our muddled interpretation of gestaltism with a concept in holism to the side, until we install the work, by way of minding the fog, Coleridge, this is a look behind the scenes. A placeholder, if you will. Whether you or we see the parts as whole and together form something other (the whole is other than the sum of its parts) or a celebration of synergy making something not possible without the other (the whole is greater than the sum of its parts), working on our floating collage in new materials and at scale, learning of crimps and swivels, and keeping the relationship of parts and their readings in mind at all times has been a delight. From carshare vans to quietly working in the corner of a huge borrowed space, this never gets old.

A Weight of Albatross, you are ready to take to the sky.


Feather by feather, straw by bottle lid, follow #AWeightofAlbatross to see further still.


Image credit: Southern royal albatross (Diomedea epomophora), Department of Conservation, Te Papa Atawhai, New Zealand