As with all things, we are energy and organised matter that over time reorganises until it becomes disorganised. Dust is disorganised matter, which Hazelton reorganises and invests energy into to create three-dimensional impressions of organised matter.
Hazelton started his signature ‘dust sculptures’ in 2006 after observing the dust that had collected on objects in his studio. Recollecting his mother’s obsession with cleanliness he decided to call these early dust-works ‘Immaculate Conceptions: concepts involving the control of dirt and subversion of cleanliness.’ Growing up in an immaculate home environment, where any evidence of impermanence and decay were quickly swept or cleaned away, came into sharp contrast when he married into a Japanese family, whereby adopting a culture that embraces impermanence.
Although not a conscious decision on Hazelton’s part, his work seems to have acquired this Japanese aesthetic. In particular, the Japanese phrase, Mono no Aware, which can be translated both as ‘the transience of things’, and ‘the pathos of objects’, seems to have had some resonance. The curious mix of domesticity and the desire to transcend materiality in Hazelton’s dust work creates a bridge between what we understand as everyday living and the question of being.
British sculptor Paul Hazelton taps into the powerful emotional associations of dust
to create sculptures that are at once perplexing, astonishing, and witty
David Revere McFadden, director Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) New York, 2011
They are paradoxical artworks, ‘ontological disasters’
Marilena Parlati, author Beyond Inchoate Debris, European Journal of English Studies, 2011
A tiny figure rests on a circular mirror and its image is doubled, making it even more ghostly. It is corporally there, as is its reflection, but it is hardly there at all. It is dust
and the reflection of dust. The figure is seen through a half dome of hair that also sits atop the mirror, which due to its doubling reflection perfectly seals it in a real and invisible sphere.
Michael Petry, Dust in the Corner of My Eye, 2017