Set designer Sonia Rentsch makes weapons that anyone can love, for one simple reason: they’ll never kill a soul.
Made from plants, seeds, leaves, bark, roots, stems, and blossoms, the guns and grenades in Rentsch’s series Harm-Less are a novel take on the traditional still life, highlighting the strange visual appeal that weapons hold over us, but through materials that strip them of their violent menace.
Rentsch explains that the project was created in response to an assignment from the magazine January Biannual‘s art director to create work dealing with “life, death, ritual and evolution” using plant matter. “We originally spoke of working with real weapons teamed with foliage, but I had quite a large lead time to come up with a final concept,” writes Rentsch, “And as ideas are prone to do, the piece evolved.”
She collected samples for the works over the course of two months during late night strolls and walks through the park. “The amazing seed pod that is used twice (both as the grenade and the handle of the ladies pistol) was knocked from a local tree with a broom en route to the studio. The rest were off cuts that I had taken from another job I was on the day prior.”
While the gun parts look like they’re cohering to make a whole, Rentsch explains that “nothing is stuck together. The guns were pieced together in-camera on the day of the shoot,” and photographed by Albert Comper.
Rentsch’s career as an industrial designer and set designer has allowed her to work on projects for Christian Dior, the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival and a range of magazines. “Any challenge is a good challenge, correct?,” she says. “I love what I do.”