Grant Lingard

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1961, d.1995

Swan Song

  • 1995-1996
  • White enamel-coated laundry drying racks, sheets, pillowcase and towels.
  • Gift of Trevor Fry, 2013
  • 915 x 730 x 480mm
  • 2013/055.a-hhh

The term ‘swan song’ originated with the ancient Greeks and their belief that a dying swan sang beautifully. It has come to describe a final act before leaving. Grant Lingard conceived this sculpture while dying from HIV/AIDS. It was assembled three months after his death according to his written instructions by his partner Peter Lanini and a group of Grant’s art school friends for the Swan song exhibition at Sydney’s First Draft Gallery in 1996.

The towels, sheets and pillowcases arranged over these drying racks are more than one person or family would typically use, their number suggesting the regular changes required by a long illness. As elegant as ever, the minimal white procession is funereal, but it also documents private acts of loving care for all to see.

(Perilous: Unheard Stories from the Collection, 6 August 2022- )

Exhibition History