With most of the works in this series formed on the dark grey and rugged surfaces of slate rock, Counting Rocks One Step at a Time reveals Kayleigh Goh expanding herself beyond her signature cement, wood, and acrylic paint mediums. Moving beyond her comfort zone of being sheltered away in indoor spaces towards the vaster, more unpredictable outdoors, she veers away from store-bought materials, and instead employs found objects and debris she discovered in her explorations around the city of Melbourne. Yet, rather than turning to grand or picturesque landscapes, she sets her gaze on the minute objects most people would overlook: pieces of rock, ceramic, coral skeleton and eggshells. Emphasising the materiality of these natural things, she allows their earthy colours and textures to reveal themselves, making these organic characteristics indelible parts of her artworks. Her pieces thus blur the boundaries between representation and reality: actual rocks are used to depict rocks, yet they are framed against minimalist backgrounds of light, geometric lines that form the illusion of space and perspective–blurring boundaries between nature and architecture, the organic and the man-made.
In these works, one detects a certain tension on the artist’s part to decenter and remove herself from the works, allowing her materials to speak for themselves–while simultaneously imbuing her own artistic hand. As she deepens her relationships with her mediums, navigating what it means to observe not only their fixed properties, but to listen to their evolving histories and possibilities, a paradox arises: involving these natural materials in her art necessitates the act of removing them from their contexts, and inevitably transforming and expanding their meaning. Goh rearranges these natural materials such that they interact with other mediums, such as pencil and cement, thus forging new connections among them. Against sparse, structural backgrounds, rocks are associated not with the debris and disorder of their original sites–but become objects that create room for space, silence and contemplation. They are no longer insignificant objects on the roadside, destined to be crushed or buried on the ground, but become main characters in these works–emphasised for their individual, artistic qualities; and ability to evoke visceral human desires for solitude, connection and balance.