See what's on at the

Browse What's On

– Highlights


Grayson Perry

10 Dec - 01 May


Primavera 2015

22 Sep - 06 Dec


Matthys Gerber

22 Sep - 06 Dec

Create and Learn at the

All Learning Programs

– Learning Events



06 Dec, 6.00pm, Throughout the MCA


Contemporary Art Studio

31 Mar, 10.00am, Level 3: National Centre for Creative Learning


Creativity in the Primary Classroom 2016

20 May, 9.00am, Level 3: National Centre for Creative Learning

Find out more about the

About the MCA

– News from inside the MCA

Getting Real (Time)

Artist Educator Stephanie Lade reflects on the process of creating a new learning program designed to open up experimental media processes to Primary and Secondary students. more

Farewell Simryn Gill with MCA Young Guides

Listen to an extract of MCA Young Guides tour of Volume One: MCA Collection, as we farewell Simryn Gill’s Carbon Copy (assimilate). more

View the Collection

Browse Collection

– Spotlights from the collection online

Volume One: MCA Collection

Works from the MCA Collection on display

Remain in Light: Photography from the MCA Collections

On tour until October 2015


Watch our latest artist interview with Khaled Sabsabi

Gemma Smith

Adaptable (mint/golden green) 2008

on display

Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with assistance of Dr Edward Jackson AM and Mrs Cynthia Jackson AM, 2009

sythetic polymer paint on aircraft plywood, polyester

H 66.5 W 51.6 D 0.3cm

About the Artwork

Gemma Smith’s sculptural works The Adaptables are based on the geometric paintings she was making at the time, breaking them down across a three-dimensional surface. As constructed forms, each piece can be manipulated by hand to reveal different permutations.

The Adaptables consist of two painted plywood planes that have been cut into irregular geometric shapes and held together by an inner layer of fabric that operates as a hinging mechanism along certain edges. In these examples, each Adaptable is binary, with one colour painted on its face, and a different colour painted on its underside – however, even ‘face’ and ‘underside’ are interchangeable because the sculptures can be shifted around, their configuration altered by the position of the viewer. This orchestration of colour is key to the successful functioning of the sculptures: the fact that the two colours are different in hue but close in tone ensures that when manipulated, any selected combination of planes remains harmonious. As each piece is reconfigured, the darker tone recedes and the brighter one comes to the fore … what is set in motion is a play of contrasts, between solid and void, dark and light’.

Smith uses colour, cast light and shadows upon connected but shifting planes or surfaces in space to explore notions of mass, depth and dimension but through subtle manipulations (including the viewer’s participation). While The Adaptables echo the artist’s geometric paintings, these infinitely-operable, small-scale adaptations are user-friendly – their immediacy and accessibility encouraging viewers to fully engage with the artist’s construction process.

Gemma Smith

– About the artist


Gemma Smith’s work takes the form of both painting and sculpture. Through her explorations of colour theory, pictorial depth and sculptural form, she has developed a fascinating body of abstract work that both playfully and seriously investigates the shifting pictorial plane.

Learn more
– Other works by the artist

– View also


Related Exhibitions

In the Shop