*CLICK on the IMAGES to Enlarge them 🙂
here’s a link to a pretty well represented interview that I did with the Weekly Times in the lead up to Fun4Kids
Earlier this year I was approached to run an art space at this year’s Fun4Kids Festival. The festival’s zone’s programmer, Rebecca Elmes, had found a rather cool program by Melbourne based artist Briony Barr. Tape It is a collaborative drawing program developed by Briony. Participants use different coloured electrical tape to create “expanded” drawings – as in drawings that extend across walls, floors, windows and other objects within the space. These cooperative drawings conclude with “undrawing” where participants peel the drawings up and layer them to create three dimensional objects. These objects can then be cut open to reveal the coloured layers that resemble a geological form. You can find out more about Briony’s practice by following these links…
We decided to approach this project as a collaborative mentorship, we called it Taping Spaces. Briony guided me through Tape It’s concepts and logistics. I spent a day at Art Play Melbourne to witness Tape It in motion and we had many phone calls and emails in the build up for the festival. We successfully applied for a Regional Arts Victoria Grant to help make this all happen.
In my own practice I am interested in how we create the different spaces that we occupy- what are the ways in which we manage to create different environments from day to day or from person to person. This is where the collaboration kicked in. Fun4Kids is a 7 day festival. Taping Spaces was set-up in the large space that is the Warrnambool Art Gallery’s Temporary Exhibition Space. The festival director was keen to make sure each family visiting the festival had a different experience each day. To do this I ran a different drawing theme each day- The Rainforest, In the City, The Milky Way etc. I was also able to tweak physical aspects of the space- movable walls, rearranging display boxes, changing lighting (inc. UV Light & Spotters) and music. It was brilliant to be able to play with the space in these different ways over the course of the week.
Most importantly people had a ball. Families would spend an hour and a half at a time, many came back to keep drawing over the course of the festival. It is this aspect of arts programing that I have really come to love- setting up situations that enable people, especially families, to interact with each other.
Each day we would start with a blank canvas that was transformed into a temporary world. Each afternoon we would “undraw” the space until it appeared as though nothing had happened. It was brilliant fun, and exhausting too. On the final day Dion Barker set-up a time lapse camera to capture this process. You can find it by following this link- it’s pretty cool (thanks Dion!)
Taping Spaces produced so many colourful creations, it was hard to pick favourites. Such a great experience, thanks for letting me hop into your program Briony Barr! & thanks for the great opportunity Rebecca Elmes 🙂
Last year, Liza McCosh, Director of Scope Galleries, generously invited me to exhibit my video work “Gaia is Symbiosis as Seen from Space”. I took this as an opportunity to develop some of the thinking contained in the video as well as to further develop my installation processes. Inside Out marked an important step forward in my thinking about my specific research as well as my broader understanding of how art produces knowledge. I came to realise the extent to which this video work is very much in conversation with the work of colonial landscape painter Eugene von Guerard and his observations which sought to understand the landscape as an interconnected ecosystem. I also came to realise the important role art plays in not only observing and critiquing our relationship to the world but also how crucial it is in proposing new and alternate ways to imagine this relationship.
I was fortunate to share the gallery with an exhibition titled Embedded produced by Andrea Radley, Gareth Colliton and Karen Richards. Embedded was an acclaimed exhibition of works made during a residency in the Emergency Department at South West Health Care Warrnambool. You can read more about their work by following these links:
I reworked my footage from “Gaia is Symbiosis (…)”, slowly it down and playing it from end to start so as to let the viewer work backwards back to the ground. I also set this footage to a very simple soundtrack, a recording of my washing machine as it works through a wash cycle, occasionally thumping as it spins itself off balance. The spinning footage and the sound of the washing machine were a perfect complement and worked to draw together the sense of the ordinary domestic with the sense of the “bigger picture”. I made a series of sculptures that imitated water hung out on my clothes horse and my ironing board. As a happy coincidence the smell of the running data projector was almost identical to that of a hot iron.
The following is the statement that accompanied Inside Out:
Through PhD research at the Australian National University Canberra I have been examining the overlap of body and environment as an “aesthetic subjectivity”. This way of understanding subjectivity emphasises how embodied consciousness is embedded in and emergent from its environment- an environment that we primarily experience aesthetically as the combination of sensation, emotion and meaning. A creative practice led inquiry into my domestic environment has centered this research. From this point I have attempted to make sense of and plot my relationship to the larger world in which I exist. I have used photography, drawing, sculpture, written reflection and sound and video recording in this continuous observation of my relationship to space.
Inside Out is a fragment of a larger body of practice that reinterprets my 2013 video work Gaia is Symbiosis as Seen from Space in order to imagine continuity between our ordinary domestic world and the larger social, ecological and cosmological realities we share.
Focusing on the aesthetic nature of our connection to the world has provided me with a way to imagine the materiality of our continuum with time and space. My aim now is to create spaces that convey this to others.
The video Gaia is Symbiosis as Seen from Space was originally created as part of “The Kitchen Table Art Expedition”, an Arts Victoria Artists In Schools Program held at Macarthur Primary School in 2013.
During May and June 2014 I began work on this piece. It is a transition from the smaller sculptures and drawings that marked the middle of my Practice-led PhD Research. With this work I was concerned to communicate the feeling of space that emerged through my domestic observations. A bathroom basin was replaced in our humble home and I seized it as an opportunity to push my work into installation thinking. I constructed a timber frame and had mirrors cut to fit it- the glazier reported that it was especially difficult to oval for the basin but he did well. I created a very low tech system that allows me to take the mirrors on and off as the work is presented. I fashioned faux water using plaster and acrylic paint. Small speakers are embedded in the external water form and beneath the drain. A laptop, amplifier and subwoofer were put inside the mirror box to power these speakers and two larger speakers placed further away from the sculpture inside the exhibition space.
The sounds of brushing teeth and washing hands can first be heard coming from basin, these are gradually intertwined with spoken word and a guitar piece composed by my partner Dean. These sounds are then picked up and extended on the second set of speakers that sit away from the sculpture. This interplay of sounds across distance works to fill the space in a really interesting way. The volume increases on the second set of speakers until it fills the room with the sound of an ocean wave crashing.
This work was presented at the Artery in Warrnambool, a retired funeral home that has been converted in a gallery, retail shop and artist studios by the local arts co-op “The F-Project”. I was privileged to be the first artist to create an installation just for this small section at the rear of their gallery, it is a peculiar light well that, from local reports, provided natural light for the viewing of the deceased.
As always, you can click on these images for a closer look 🙂
2014 and was such a busy year for me! One of my highlights was having my video “Gaia is Symbiosis as Seen From Space” included in Warrnambool’s Silver Ball Film Festival. (Venture further down my blog posts to find out more about this video & its role in Artists In Schools 2013). My video is currently posted on a kind friends Vimeo channel & you can check it out by following the link above- rather than the “arty” version, it is the “brief-story-of-how-it-happened” version, its a lot of fun but it might make you dizzy!!
The Silver Ball Film Festival was held outdoors in and amongst Warrnambool’s laneways last May. It was staffed by numerous devoted arts people in Charlie Chapman kit. It was a freezing yet spectacular night you can read more about it below.