The Intermission x Rodeo

Tamara Henderson

The Syzygy of Cinnamon

18 March
29 July

A late-night in a faraway capital city, gazing into the still black body of a lake. A lake named Burley Griffin (after a man who drew these plans but never set foot here). A lake built to make a strange place feel like a home. An ancient landscape flooded to create something someone might find familiar. Reflected in its surface, the cosmos sparkled in thirteen stanzas: nouns with skeletons of wire, mouthing a question.

Borrowed from the Greek Συζυγία meaning ‘yoked together,’ syzygy speaks in poetry of two becoming one. In Gnosticism it is used to describe co-operative pairs, hewn from the totality of being. And for Carl Jung it described the relationship between the dualistic archetypes which correspond to describe a greater whole. For Tamara Henderson, syzygy evokes a kind of friendship.

Created together with Australian artist Nell Pearson (Byron Bay), The Canberra Character is a form that conjured itself. Thirteen skeletons emerged from the night sky and over the course of six months in Australia’s capital city, Henderson and Pearson traversed the landscape under their spell, to discover this character and bring to form its reflection. 

As with all such unfoldings, an invitation was offered here – to relate differently to a strange landscape, to make something of it all, and to witness in it a reflection of self, hewn together with every act. The thirteen pieces interlink to create five larger figures. Syllables, stressed and unstressed, fuse together to describe a picture of a poem of a place: cattail reeds and sweetgrass in a basket; a plasma globe; bitumen, turtle shells and glass eyes; cinnamon and wool and wire mesh. The Syzygy of Cinnamon.

Presented alongside The Canberran Characters is a cycle of five paintings, each of which takes the name of a line from a poem authored by Tamara Henderson. 

A Desert Sifting Sand for Time to Pass
The River’s twin was Sleeping Underneath
A Solid Afterwards Becomes a Gas
And there we find Gondwana in the Heath
A Skeleton Ascends to find the Door.

Text by Julia Dunne