Individually the twelve sculptures that comprise A Catalogue of Shapes function as personifications of twelve characters from the Homeric epics. As a set, they represent a ‘composite object portrait’ that depicts Homer not as a person, but as a continually adaptive constructive system.
51 x 30 x 20cm
Fishing buoy, funnel, rotary breast-drill breast-plate, outdoor umbrella slider, vase cap, bell-shaped lamp holder component, ribbed rod, wood (Camphor, Jelutong, Obeche), enamel paint.
This assemblage is based on the character Odysseus, the hero whose quest to achieve a successful homecoming (nostos) forms the basis of the Odyssean narrative. Homer describes Odysseus as a successful and mentally dexterous warrior, adept at extreme endurance. In the Odyssey, Odysseus is the central character as well as a second (although unreliable) narrator.
ΜΗΤΙΣ (metis) serves here as an epithet of Odysseus and refers to skill in counsel or device, astuteness, shrewdness, contrivance and scheming.
59.5 x 22 x 32cm
Fishing buoy, spoked wheels, rotary breast-drill gear, Jamboli food press lid and handle, lid and threaded shaft, flame-shaped finial, Jaffle toaster mould plate, various bell and cup shaped lamp holder components, jingle bell, coffee-press plunger shaft, cutting tool handle, anniversary clock base, linoleum tile, wood (Obeche), enamel paint
This assemblage is based on the character Achilles, the hero whose quest for kleos forms the basis of the Iliad. Homer describes Achilles as a swift, temperamental warrior, and the best of the Achaeans. In the Iliad, Achilles’ anger is the catalyst for the events that make up the poem. Unlike Odysseus, Achilles trades his return home (nostos) for a death in battle that will win him poetic immortality. Achilles’ kleos is diminished by Agamemnon’s disrespect and his subsequent refusal to fight, but restored when he avenges the death of Patroclus.
ΜΗΝΙΣ (menis) serves here as an epithet of Achilles and refers to anger; wrath, and ire and is also the first word and topic of the Iliad.
57.5 x 34.5 x 24.5cm
Outside spring calliper, bobbin spools, cabinet door handle, anniversary clock weights, outdoor umbrella slider with rib connectors intact, coffee pot, ribbed lamp holder component, metal washer, wood (Pine), enamel paint.
This sculpture is based on the character Telemachus, the son of Odysseus and Penelope in the Odyssey. Homer describes Telemachus as initially ‘uncertain and pensive’, but during the poem his physical and mental resemblance to Odysseus becomes apparent. In the Odyssey, he goes in search of information on his father’s whereabouts, as Odysseus alone is absent from the nostoi (epic songs recounting the fates of the men who went to Troy). On his return, Telemachus is the first person on the island of Ithaca to whom Odysseus reveals his hidden identity and assists his father in killing the suitors.
ΟΦΕΛΛΩ (ophello) serves here as an epithet of Telemachus. The word can refer to what one ought to do or be doing. It can also mean to become greater; to grow; or to increase.
59 x 27.5 x 25cm
Fishing buoy, funnel, fire sprinkler valve, gate valve hand-wheel, Electro Voice 630 microphone grille, threaded rod, metal helical ribbon, two coffee press lids, metal washer, wood (Oak), enamel paint
This sculpture is based on the character Hector, the chief defender of Troy and primary opponent of Achilles in the Iliad. Homer describes Hector as an unwavering and intimidating warrior, but also as an inspiring leader, a kind husband and a skilled horseman. Hector is the antithesis of Achilles. He lacks the latter’s divine parentage, and Achilles’ supra-human and sub-human excesses. In the poem it is Hector who explains that a hero’s kleos is marked by his victim’s tomb. His own death therefore forms part of the kleos of his killer (Achilles), while his funeral prefigures that of Achilles.
ΕΧΩ (ekho) serves here as an epithet of Hektor and refers to holding; protecting; and preserving.
48.5 x 18 x 18cm
Embroidery hoop, embroidery needle, bobbin spool, ribbed rod, funnel, vase cap, angle-grinder inner flange, drill chuck, hinge leaves, hollow soldered brass ball, lamp holder fastener, wood (Plywood), enamel paint
This sculpture is based on the character Penelope, the wife of Odysseus in the Odyssey. Homer describes Penelope as intelligent and loyal to her husband, whom she equals in cunning. In the Odyssey, Penelope determines the success of Odysseus’ homecoming. If she were to choose a new husband, then Odysseus’ fate would echo Agamemnon’s who returned from Troy to be murdered by his wife and her lover. Conferring nostos, Penelope preserves the uniqueness of the Odyssey by clearly differentiating it from the Oresteia.
ΑΡΕΤΗ (arete) serves here as an epithet of Penelope and refers to merit and good character. It is also the name of the Phaeacian queen whose support Odysseus must win if he is to be returned home by the Phaeacian ships.
49.5 x 8 x 17cm
Circular tambourine, Propert Swift Whip rotary egg beater, pot lid, corkscrew, metal cap of a bath plug, wood (Plywood, Oak), enamel paint
This sculpture is based on the character Helen, the daughter of Zeus, and the contested wife of Menelaus and Paris/Alexandros in the Iliad. Homer describes Helen as desirable and regarded as blameless by others, but she speaks of herself as responsible for the Trojan War. In the Iliad, possession of Helen (and all her property) provides the motive for the war. Participation in the fight for her translates into poetic immortality, while Menelaus (having regained his status as son-in-law of Zeus) learns in the Odyssey that he will achieve immortality through transportation to the Elysian Fields at the end of his life.
ΑΕΘΛΟΝ (aethlon) serves here as an epithet of Helen and refers to a prize awarded to a victor in a contest.
51.5 x 31 x 20cm
Colander, Primus camping stove, brass washers, pulley, fish hooks, bobbin spool, lamp holder components, warming plate lid, wood (Cypress, Plywood), brass rod, enamel paint
This sculpture is based on the character Calypso, the goddess who rescues Odysseus when he is marooned on her island of Ogygia and attempts to separate him from the world in the Odyssey. Homer describes Calypso as solitary and isolated from gods and men alike, with beautiful hair and a woman’s (as opposed to a goddess’s) voice. In the Odyssey, Calypso offers Odysseus immortality as her spouse, but at the cost of permanent separation from the world. As an obstacle and diversion, she is a threat to the hero’s nostos, yet spurs a supra-human transformation: Odysseus’s rejection of her offer of divine immortality returns him to the mortal world of Ithaca, which secures his poetic immortality.
ΚΡΥΠΤΩ (krupto) serves here as an epithet of Kalypso and refers to hiding; concealment; keeping something or someone from view or knowledge; or to shield or shelter it/them.
46.8 x 31 x 18cm
Inside spring callipers, gas heater heat deflector dish, fan blade, table-tennis ball, sprue formers, fondue fork, anniversary clock weight case, wrist watch case back, wax-working tool, section of a brass nipple, filter parts from a coffee press, metal washers, glass marbles, brass rod, wood (Plywood, African Zebra), enamel paint
This sculpture is based on the character Eris, the goddess of conflict in the Iliad. Homer describes Eris as a small insatiable creature who expands as her influence spreads, roaming the battlefield even when the other gods have left. In the Iliad, Eris functions as the personification of the self-generative, mesmerizing and consumptive aspects of conflict. According to tradition, she caused the Trojan War in response to exclusion from the wedding feast of Achilles’ parents. The dramatic function of Eris is to create and maintain the conditions for achieving kleos.
ΦΑΓΟΝ (phagon) serves here as an epithet of Eris and refers to the act of devouring. In Homer it is used of the cannibal Cyclops; the monster Scylla; and of fish-eating corpses.
50.5 x 24.4 x 18cm
Bundt mould, outside spring calliper, Burmos camping stove, lamp burner border, ribbed and cup-shaped lamp holder components, brass washers, brass latches, wood (Obeche), enamel paint
This sculpture is based on the character Circe, the goddess who, in the Odyssey, transforms Odysseus’ men into swine on the island of Aeaea and instructs him to travel to the underworld. Homer describes Circe as a dangerous and generous hostess, with beautiful hair. In the Odyssey, Circe has a transformative power which Odysseus neutralizes with Hermes’ help. She sends Odysseus to the underworld to consult Teiresias, who reveals that the hero’s nostos is (and will be) hindered by angered gods, but that he will eventually be reconciled with Poseidon. Circe represents the Homeric concept of the gods as equally helpful or harmful.
ΦΑΙΝΩ (phaino) serves here as an epithet of Kirke and refers to the act of bringing something to light; making something known; or bringing something to action.
47.5 x 21 x 18cm
Spring divider, Bundt mould, brass ball, knitting needles, Primus burner bell, filter parts from a coffee press, brass ring from a chandelier, 20 g weights, wax-working tool, wood (African Zebra), enamel paint
This sculpture is based on the character Ate, the goddess who induces lapses in judgement in the Iliad. Homer describes Ate as an exceptionally fast runner. She is banned from Olympus, making her victims exclusively human. In the Iliad, Ate personifies the fateful decisions that resulted in Achilles’ rage and the Trojan War itself. By diminishing the status of Menelaus and Achilles by their loss of Helen and Briseis, Ate disrupts the prevailing order and endangers kleos, but creates conditions for the attainment of kleos through retribution.
ΠΑΓΙΣ (pagis) serves here as an epithet of Ate and refers to a snare (predominantly as used by women); and Odysseus’ scheme of the Trojan horse.
44.2 x 32.1 x 21cm
Fishing buoy, brass lid of an urn, acanthus leaf-shaped finial, decorative lamp holder component, primus tank lid, hanging cheek snaffle bit, anniversary clock weight, brass ashtray, plastic lamp holder component, wood (Oak), enamel paint
This sculpture is based on the character Nestor, the patrician advisor to the Achaean army in the Iliad, and host to Telemachus in the Odyssey. Homer describes Nestor as the oldest and wisest of the Achaeans, generally referred to as the ‘Gerenian horseman’. In the Iliad and the Odyssey, Nestor formulates his advice to heroes on comparisons of current situations to historical precedent on the basis that all things of the present are inferior to those of the past.
ΝΟΟΣ (noos) serves here as an epithet of Nestor and refers to the mind; sense; perception; and counsel
53.5 x 26 x 36.2cm
Fishing buoy, lamp holder components, whistle, violin bridge, winding key, headphones, outside spring calliper, wreath-shaped finial, conical finial, bobbin spool, Rockler Power Bore bit, wooden handle of a brace drill, threading die, wood (Plywood, Camphor, Obeche), enamel paint
This sculpture is based on the character Menelaus, the wronged husband of Helen in the Iliad, and the first to provide Telemachus with news of Odysseus in the Odyssey. Homer describes Menelaus as possessing a ‘loud war cry’, and the lesser of the two sons of Atreus, but as extremely wealthy and content by the time he returns home from Troy. Menelaus’ marriage and status are endangered in the Iliad, but exemplary in the Odyssey.
ΒΟΑΩ (boao) serves here as an epithet of Menelaos and refers to the act of a person giving a loud cry or shout; and of things to roar or resound
Powell’s Patterns 2, 11, 20, 25
Lists of people, places and objects are a common feature of oral poetry. Long overlooked as purely ‘decorative’ feats of memory, catalogues are now believed to represent a different, telegraphic, mode of storytelling. Scholar Barry Powell identified structural similarities underlying entries in one such catalogue – the Iliadic Catalogue of Ships. Powell’s Patterns 2, 11, 20, 25 explores thematic links within one of these patterns.
Powell’s Patterns 2, 11, 20, 25 focuses on four contingents from the list of combatants in Homer’s Iliad. these were led by the sons of Ares (entry 2), the old sage Nestor (entry 11), the grandsons of Herakles (entry 20) and the sons of Asklepius (entry 25).
Fishing buoy, outside spring callipers, trophy cups, lamp holder components, push switches, Mezzaluna/ Wiegemesser, salt shakers, Jamboli food press blades, outdoor umbrella slider, wood, enamel paint
This assemblage is based on the character Ares, the god of war and savagery. In the Iliad Zeus describes Ares as the most hated of gods, referring to his fickle nature as alloprosallos (to lean first to one side, then another). In this sculpture, Ares is depicted via references to an underwater nautical mine, a wiegemesser (‘rocking’ knife), and a butcher’s block on a plinth/podium reminiscent of the designs used for war monuments defined as tombs of ‘the unknown soldier’.
ΝΟΣΟΣ (nosos) serves here as an epithet of Ares and refers to sickness (of the body and mind), a plague, misery, suffering, and evil.
Fishing buoy, Chilean Gaucho spur, spoon, bead, brass ashtray lid, brass bell, lamp holder components, wood, enamel paint
This assemblage is based on the character Nestor, king of Pylos. In this sculpture, Nestor is represented as a healer and a commemorator of the dead whose council leads to the death of Patroklos and Achilles re-entering the war. Nestor’s memorialization of heroes long dead is represented by the wooden oar (which is used as a grave marker in the Odyssey). His physician’s skill is represented by a spoon holding a little white sphere (a pill) and a Cycladic vessel that alludes to the cup in which his healing draught is mixed. The spoon with its little ball can alternately be read as the ‘pearl of wisdom’ that Nestor offers. His counsel leads to disaster for Patroklos (but enables Zeus to fulfill his aim of having the Greeks take Troy while still keeping his promise to Thetis). Nestor’s famous horsemanship is referred to with a spur, and his status as the last surviving member of a previous generation of heroes is represented by using a Cycladic design for the cup that only he could lift.
ΔΟΣΙΣ (dosis) serves here as an epithet of Nestor and refers to a legacy, a gift, a contribution towards the fulfillment of a goal, an individual’s fate, or a dose of medicine.
Fishing buoy, cast iron three-legged pot, Jaffle toaster mould plate, outside spring callipers, rotary saw blade, cork pull, pickle fork, lemon juicer, wood, enamel paint
This assemblage is based on the character Herakles,the prototypical Greek hero. In this sculpture, Herakles is represented as an archer (Odysseus names him alongside Eurytos as the greatest archers) and as human in life and divine after death. Herakles’ habit of assaulting and murdering both his hosts and his guests is alluded to by the levered corkscrew, the pickle fork, three-legged pot and lemon juicer. Herakles’ endurance of Hera’s persecution is represented through the cooking pot as crucible. His ascent to Olympus after death is represented by the rocket, and his transition from mortal to god is represented by the division of the blue fishing buoy into one pristine half and one cracked half. The circular saw blade forms a halo reminiscent of the corona during a solar eclipse and alludes to the mane and skin of the Nemean lion that was killed and worn by Herakles.
ΑΘΑΝΑΤΑΙ (athanatai) serves here as an epithet of Herakles. It means ‘to be undying, immortal’, or to have everlasting fame.
Aluminium light holder component, brass lampholder component, horseshoe, outdoor umbrella slider, can opener, vegetable peeler, brass ashtray lid, Fisher space pen refill, latch component, bead, wood, enamel paint
Asklepios ΟΙΞΕΣΘΑΙ is a depiction of the healer Asclepius as a ghost. Asclepius appears not as a solid sphere, but a pierced one. His function as a healer is alluded to via the mortar and pestle and as a surgeon through the use of a tin opener and a vegetable peeler.
ΟΙΞΕΣΘΑΙ (oichesthai) serves here as an epithet of Asclepius. It means ‘to be gone’ and refers to his death by Zeus’ thunderbolt (hence the lighting rod at the top) and the city of Oichalia with which Asclepius and his sons are associated in the Catalogue of Ships
Trivet, dart, trowel, washer clip, fishing reel, microscope stand, spherical clock weight, Eclipse piercing saw frame, brass oil can, swing arm desk lamp shade, brass rod, decorative lamp-holder component, depth gauge frame, coffee plunger pot component, wood, enamel paint
Muse ΑΟΙΔΗΝ is a depiction of one of the Muses that punished the singer Thamyris by depriving him of his voice, memory and ability to play his instrument in entry 11. This sculpture represents ‘voice’ as a harpoon – a means of capture and attraction across great distances.
ΑΟΙΔΗΝ (aoiden) serves here an epithet of one of three Muses and refers both to Thamyris’ ‘divine’ voice which was taken from him, but also the voice which poets such as Hesiod claimed the Muses had “breathed into him”.
Moulin-Legumes food mill, egg separator, chalk line reel, pizza cutter disk, icing piping nozzle, Eclipse piercing saw frame, trigger lobster clasp, brass lamp-holder component, copper wire, wood, enamel paint
This assemblage is based on one of the Muses that punished the singer Thamyris by depriving him of his voice, his memory, and his skill in playing his instrument. Muse ΜΝΗΜΗΝ represents Memory. In the invocation of the Muses at the outset of the Iliadic Catalogue of Ships the poet describes how the Muses are always present when things occur and so know everything, as opposed to the singer, whose knowledge is wholly reliant on the Muses sharing their recollections. The Muse is represented by means of a food mill, an egg separator, a chalk line reel and a depiction of a circular labyrinth found on ancient Greek ‘Knossos’ coins.
ΜΝΗΜΗΝ (mnemen) serves here as an epithet of this Muse and refers to a remembrance, a record, a monument, an epitaph, a reference to something, or a power of the mind.
Aluminium candle-holder, stove plate spiral, Eclipse piercing saw frame, Stanley Surform half-round plane, pulley, bead, rotary drill gear wheel, sugar bowl lid, guitar tuning pegs, thimble, nut, trophy cup feet, brass lamp-holder component, copper wire, wood, enamel paint
This assemblage is based on one of the Muses that punished the singer Thamyris by depriving him of his voice, his memory, and his skill in playing his instrument. Muse ΜΕΛΕΤΗΝ represents practice/technique. The sculpture includes references to bees and hives through the thimble mounted on a hexagon and the banded cone with its sting-like finial. The stove plate spiral refers to cooking as a skilled activity and the so-called ‘dance’ of bees. The rasp, gear and pulley refer to various aspects of manufacturing.
ΜΕΛΕΤΗΝ (meleten) serves here as an epithet of this Muse and means to pay attention to something, to practice, rehearse, or to pursue something, but also refers to anxiety.
Bicycle brake disc, brass circular Bulb Taxi Horn, hand mixer beater, combination square centre head, pot lid, brass lamp-holder component, spring callipers spring, protractor leg, dart flight, wood, enamel paint
This assemblage is based on the character Thamyris. A singer who was maimed by the Muses after claiming that he would win if he were to compete against them. They took away his ‘divine’ voice and his memory for playing his kithara. Thamyris EYXOMAI represents the singer as a self-emitting and self-swallowing voice (the modified taxi horn) and a multi-stringed instrument (the egg-beater). The brake disk at the center of the taxi horn refers to the traveling singer being permanently stopped at Dorion by the angry Muses. The arrow emerging from the rear of the horn alludes to the connection established in the Catalogue of Ships between Thamyris and Eurytos who was killed by Apollo for claiming that he would beat the god in an archery contest. The egg-beater refers to the ancient Greek singer Timotheus who was censured by the Spartans for having too many strings (eleven instead of seven) on his kithara.
EYXOMAI (euchomai) serves here as an epithet of Thamyris and can mean to boast, to pray, vow, address the gods, or to state something accurately/truthfully in a legal setting
Fishing buoy, outside spring callipers, hand-forged outside callipers, Primus camping stove, pendant light fixture ceiling hook cup, combination square blades, Apsco Vacuhold pencil sharpener, tracing wheel, salt shaker foot, gate valve head, toast rack components, pepper grinder components, washers, wood, enamel paint
Apollo ΝΟMΟΣ is a depiction of the god Apollo as a mentor who turns on their protege. Apollo’s areas of specialization – archery, music, and prophecy are expressed as a bow, lyre and tripod set on a horned altar. Apollo’s primary function as enforcer of correct and ‘measured’ conduct is alluded to in the use of instruments such as the calliper, ruler, tracing wheel and pencil sharpener. As the primary enemy of the hero of the Iliad – Achilles, Apollo is completely absent from the Catalogue of Ships. However, the story of Thamyris includes a reference to Eurytos who was killed by Apollo for claiming that he was as accomplished at archery as the god.
ΝΟMΟΣ (nomos) serves here as an epithet of Apollo and refers to a musical mode; a custom, law or ordinance, or a pasture