Ariel Ruby is in search of everyday magic

Ariel Ruby conjures a sense of wondrous play into her explorations with the elemental. “I’m most excited by the physical experience of materials,” she says. “I collect things and I just play with them until they do something unexpected.” From liquids and particles to plastics, ceramics and fruits, the scenes she creates are rich in abundance—especially in her sculptural dioramas, where she creates small, vivid worlds.

Fresh off a residency in Taiwan, and working between Sydney and Hobart, the artist has lately been inspired by storytelling, folk religion, ritual and tradition, and how these inform our present and future in an accumulative way.

Ariel Ruby, Jackfruit Mirror.

“My nonna, or grandmother, is from Campania in southern Italy, and her religious beliefs, aesthetics, food, and storytelling have always formed an important pillar of influence for me,” says Ruby. “They related to this show as I began to see similarities in the practice of folk religion that branch off from traditional religion. In particular the importance of symbolism and objects as containers of memory and meaning, and the way they can adjust to suit the changing cultural landscape showing more flexibility than strict doctrine.”

For her show at Penny Contemporary, Ruby is aiming to convey her studio experience to the viewer. Working with video, photography and digital collage techniques to create an evocative sensory experience, Ruby wants the viewer to feel as if they are stepping from the two-dimensional into her studio for a play date: “I want to ignite that childlike sensibility.

”There’s a sense of nostalgia to her creations, but Ruby insists she’s more present-focused, encouraging her audience to embrace “the unexpected in the everyday”. She sees joy and wonder in the unlikeliest of places, always blending the natural and artificial. For her, making art is simply “shining a light on the everyday magic that’s all around us”.

The Ripple Effect
Ariel Ruby
Penny Contemporary
15 December—8 January 2024

This article was originally published in the November/December 2023 print edition of Art Guide Australia.

Preview Words by Sally Gearon