Caz Haswell is an artist deeply connected with the material and psychological charge of objects. In the past she has created sculpture and textile work that is overtly erotic, but more abrasively than intimately so. This push-and-pull, attraction-repulsion dynamic is reflected in objects that seem familiar – either bodily or domestic – but are strangely proportioned or truncated, or made from unexpected materials. Door snakes hewn from leather and looped into sensuous, bodily forms; a stomach-shaped sculpture titled swollen hollow, made from hard terracotta; explicit messages conveyed in the genteel medium of tapestry. Haswell beckons us with one hand, but holds us at arm’s length with the other.
An essential element of her practice is a protracted period of looking and thinking prior to action. When the work does start, it is often slow and tactile labour: tapestry, timber construction, mould making and hand building with clay or wax.
Where Haswell's previous work shifts between frank sensuality and cool detachment, current work in her most recent exhibition Made in Hong Kong / Curtains delves into more specific, personal territory, taking family history as its starting point. The work is a combination of personal, theatrical and material sensibilities. She reconstructs fragmented stories in a material language of velvet, leather, clay, zinc plate, glass and polyurethane. Haswell pays homage to existing family narratives, whilst also seeking out the dark corners and sharp edges that official retellings tend to skirt.
Haswell is currently represented by Flinders Street Gallery, Sydney, Australia.