Ricky Swallow works predominantly in sculpture, dealing with time and its passing, mortality and immortality. Much of Swallow’s early work was nostalgic for analogue technologies such as tape decks remade in cardboard or record turntables transformed into miniature scenes from the sci-fi films of his childhood. A fascination with simulation and a respect for obsolete skills or technologies is ever present in his art.
Killing time 2003-04 resurrects the time-consuming craft of woodcarving in a composition derived from Dutch still-life painting of the seventeenth century. Its nostalgia is personal too, however; Swallow has remade the kitchen table of his childhood home in San Remo on Port Phillip Bay in Victoria and covered it with the sea-life he caught and killed throughout his youth.
Killing time is the largest and most ambitious of Swallow’s woodcarvings, and was the centrepiece of his exhibition in the Australian Pavilion at the 51st Venice Biennale in 2005. The title acknowledges the hours invested in making the sculpture while also freezing memories of the past and recuperating them for the present.