Jan van Schaik's Lost Tablets is a series of objects that express a tension between a universally recognisable children’s toy and the grammar of architectural semiotics. Some years ago whilst the artist was walking around the base of the Parthenon in Athens, he noticed, clearly discernible in its base, remnants of the great monument’s former iterations, scarred by the battles that violently transformed them from architecture to rubble. So too, the blocks of these found Lego pieces bear the marks and discolouring left on them by their former owners before putting them up for sale on the second hand market. Discolouration, writing, dirt, glue and even teeth marks are evident on the found blocks, and expressed in the new object.
The Lost Tablets’ titles are borrowed from the names of ships found crew-less and adrift at sea. Each of the works in the series has the same overall dimension, a dynamic face, and a sheer face. The architecture of the sheer face is bound by the tension between the new profile of the tablet, and the varying surface qualities of the found blocks, each with the markings of its own history. The architecture of the dynamic face is bound together by the tension between the expectation of what a Lego composition would usually prescribe, and the language of an imagined collective architectural unconscious.
The strange resonant familiarity of the tablets oscillates between the platonic, almost primal, recognisability of Lego, and the architectural grammar of the city caves of Matera, the churches of Borromini, the arches of the Doge’s palace in Venice, the buttresses of Gothic cathedrals, and the blue ceilings of the Shah Mosque of Isfahan.
Installation viewsPhotography: Aaron Christopher Rees
Available worksEach Lost Tablets sculpture comes with a box, circular powder-coated steel base and a certificate of authenticity. Additional display options include: hand-blown glass dome, $330 or cylindrical plinth, $660.
DR JAN VAN SCHAIK is an architect at MvS Architects, a researcher and senior lecturer at RMIT University Architecture & Urban Design, and a creative sector consultant at Future Tense. He has two decades of experience designing award winning prototypical public and residential buildings in both local and international settings, leading innovative research projects, and providing strategic advice and services to the creative sector.
Jan’s work has been exhibited at the Venice Biennale of Architecture, the RMIT Design Hub, the the National Gallery of Victoria, RMIT Storey Hall Gallery, Toyo Ito Museum of Architecture, The Australian Embassy Gallery Washington, the Melbourne Festival, the Beijing Biennale, Bridge Gallery London, Moving Galleries Melbourne, Object Gallery Sydney, and the Museum of Victoria.
Jan is the founder and producer of the WRITING & CONCEPTS public lecture and publication series, which reflects on the role that writing plays in the development of contemporary creative practice. The series, now in its fifth year, has hosted over 90 talks by arts organisations in Melbourne, New South Wales and South Australia. Each year, the series produces a companion publication designed and published by Art + Australia.
Jan van Schaik: Lost Tablets: Salon Projects