High art

AMY Perejuan-Capone was just three years old when dad took her on a motorised hang glider flight, sparking a fascination with aviation that culminated in the exhibition Sky Cave.

A love of flying runs deep in the family – Amy’s maternal grandfather was a leading aircraft pilot for the RAAF during WW II, serving in New Guinea.

But Sky Cave was really inspired by her father, who started hang gliding aged 16 in the early 1970s, before moving onto ‘trikes’ (motorised hang gliders) in the late 80s. Dad is an intrepid soul and regularly flew over the Nullarbor scouting for caves.

“He now has an ultralight plane based in the Wheatbelt. It’s always been a way of life for him, not a profession,” Perejuan-Capone says.

“I grew up around hang glider flying and was probably about three or four when dad first took me up in the trike. 

“I was learning to fly the ultralight when I was a teenager, and now I’m working on my confidence to take that up again. 

“Prior to the pandemic I was lucky enough to fly extensively around the world for work; by commercial jet, small prop plane, and even once by helicopter around Greenland.”

For Sky Cave, Perejuan-Capone turned PICA’s gallery into a stunning ode to aviation with six old hang gliders suspended from the huge atrium, some dating back to the early 1970s.

The Perth artist painstakingly made a harness for each glider using inkle weaving and quilting with ceramics, reflecting the era in which the glider was built.

The harnesses are inlaid with touching stories and memories about her dad, including extracts from his log books.

Also in the exhibition is a trike Perejuan-Capone built with her dad this year, a recreation of a beloved model he once owned. The trike wings were sourced from a glider that belonged to a late friend.

“I created these projects specifically to spend more time with my dad and strengthen our connection,” Perejuan-Capone says.

“We’ve always been buddies and I wanted an excuse to spend time with him along with a structure to learn skills and stories from him. We’ve bonded more over our mutual appreciation of hand and trade skills than aviation. As I mentioned, aviation is a way of life for us so that part of it is kind of our baseline normal which I love.”

Rounding off the exhibition are a couple of short films; the first is is an 8mm home movie Perejuan-Capone’s parents made in the late 70s while flying at Shelly’s.

Perth electronic band Hi OK Sorry created a score for the film, giving it a contemporary and futuristic bent. The film Parenthesis (For Movements at the Hard Border), was created in August at the South Australia border in the Nullarbor, just north of Eucla. 

“WA really relies on commercial mass aviation to keep us connected to the world because of our geographic isolation, and our families or jobs can be far flung,” Perejuan-Capone says.

“So with that stopped for now, as a momentary relief from the pain caused by our current state of separation, I wanted to remind people of the fundamental beauty of flight.”

Sky Cave is at PICA in Northbridge until January 9.


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