Belinda Toll believes there are always new ways to see. It’s like finding shades of purple and blue in the black night sky. Or a glimmer of sunlight reflected on a shiny car bonnet. The transient nature of light constantly creates new visions, sensations and emotions. Holding Light is about the power of light and how it alters the way we look at things.
Toll is known for her clever use of glass that plays with optical perception. She embraces the unique capacities of this medium to structure and extend sight. In Holding Light, digitally manipulated images and objects are placed behind glass domes. Toll uses the inherent qualities of light in the glass, but also LED lighting to abstract our perception. She transforms the contents of each light box, encouraging us to see from new angles.
Everyday objects such as a feather or straw embody new life. Toll plays on the dimensions and scale of these objects to alter our thinking about them. Lighting a net from behind, it is filled with euphoric colours reflecting off the glass. It becomes a multi-dimensional abyss; a small universe. The humble net becomes something bigger, alluding to realms beyond human experience.
Toll’s sculptures investigate how “optical devices can probe the gap between reality and imagination”. They obscure our original understanding of everyday objects, pushing us beyond our usual capabilities to see. Toll goes beyond the mere materiality of the object, visually suggesting new possibilities of perception. These objects no longer have their usual function or meaning, but are catalysts for larger ideas about time and space. Toll’s work invites the viewer to open both eyes and mind wider; to think about how we perceive the world - all that is inside and outside it - in new and exciting ways.
Words by Isabelle Webster; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.