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Steven Vella's latest body of work is the culmination of gathering and collecting; hoarding and observing; responding and revitalising.

The works forming his exhibition The Garden of Natural Wonders at NG Art Gallery, Sydney, give a "second life to discarded objects". Vella has spent years collecting organic objects from various natural spaces in which he spends his time - be it around his home and studio in Sydney or where he grew up in Queensland.

The objects vary from fallen leaves in Sydney's botanic gardens, to the unhatched seed pods of palm trees around his parent's home. A fascination with the natural world drives his love and obsession for the objects. His objection to waste drives his desire to conserve and give objects a second life.

Observation is vital to the creation of the work. By collecting and storing the objects in his Studio, Vella becomes acquainted with the natural transformation of the object from a living organism to something with which he can work.

As Vella states, knowing "what elements work together" comes only from "living with the materials" for some length of time. He understands the organic cycle from living a point of decay that can be preserved. The found objects, previously discarded by nature itself, are reborn in the studio - conservation achieved through the transformation of the ordinary to the extraordinary. With aesthetic ties to primitive and oceanic art, Vella creates free standing sculptures; decorative staffs; and wall mounted objects of organic beauty.

The objects are made in a response to their physical limits. Vella understand their strengths and weaknesses and engages with these objects on their most fundamental levels to reconstruct them as objects of beauty - leaning on their original state but revitalising them for their second coming to live and be admired for years to come.

Owen Craven
arts writer and curator, Deputy Editor, ARTIST PROFILE.

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