While Meijers and Walsh each maintain separate art practices, Henri Papin remains an ongoing project allowing the artists to collaborate and build tightly contained worlds and narratives. Together they have researched further into Henri’s potential background during a Rosamond McCulloch Studio Residency in Paris and assembled iterations of The Collector Project in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Hobart. Currently in its 13th year and continuously unfolding, each subsequent display of The Collector Project adds a new layer to the Henri Papin timeline.
Gallery director Michael Bugelli believes the evolving narrative is a drawcard. “Many people can identify with wanting to invent a character that can make something about themselves more extreme,” he says. “By engaging with Henri, we are reminded even though Henri is truly unusual, society does include some really unusual people.”
Clearly favouring hidden spaces to display his hoard, Henri has been a solitary collector for most of his fictional life. Now his personal haul is becoming increasingly public as he shifts from collector to the collected, how is Henri coping? “Mostly, I think he would be curious to know his stuff is being examined by the public to such a degree,” Walsh says. “Henri collects small, discarded things and he would be intrigued as to why someone else would be interested in something so profoundly personal. Or maybe he would find a kindred spirit.”
Main image: Henri Papin, Campaign sled, 2019. Timber, glass, dentures, plastic eggs, mineral samples, leather strapping, acrylic mirror, motors, optic fibres, crystal radio, polaroids, piano, turntable, paper mache, wool, rubber, paper clay, watercolour, balsa wood, bass wood, silicone, timber, plastic model, coral, video, copper, cables, cardboard, 190 x 60 x 120cm. COURTESY: THE ARTISTS AND MICHAEL BUGELLI GALLERY, HOBART.
This article was originally published in Sydney Contemporary Special Issue Art Collector, 2019.