Reflection - Balance : Tension : Precarious / by Ally McGinn


The context of balance within my practice has been formed by repeated inspiration from life, research and studio. Balance recurs throughout our universe, in many subjects, arguably even all. Finding a balance is crucial for sustainability, and one of the most common uses of the term is the home/life balance, which is claimed to bring happiness. We are encouraged to find balance between work and life, often overlooking the necessity to join the two.

Nature exists in a state of balance, or imbalance at the moment.

Even hanging a painting is often a case of balance.

In my studio balance was an overlooked reality of my practice. The large collection of base materials has to be stacked and stored, relying on a careful, and continually shifting, balance. Observations of these principles in practice, or more often the more obvious observation of their failure (when a painting falls, something slips and balance fails) led to a deeper interest in the tension created when things are balanced.


Testing out ideas through objects often relies on a temporary balancing for visual reflection. The tension is lost regularly, and often the imbalance is more visually and conceptually interesting.


Balancing objects gives them an element of vulnerability, a sense of temporality that brings energy to the interpretation of the work.

Tension in objects, or implied through practice, is transmuted to the audience, the feeling evoked and invoked.

Balance recurs throughout my research which is the main impetus for the inclusion of the contextual inspiration of balance in the work. Primarily seen in Derrida’s parergon, Danto’s ‘Artworld’, and the relationship between context and object.




Balance is a term that i find extremely interesting, and i believe it can be seen as a form of inspiration within my work. However, it is not one of the five most important words in my practice, nor is it one of the top ten.

The best way to describe the relationship between this term and my practice is that it is one of my underlying interests and one of the tools used in artworks to explore other ideas.