“Beware of Falling” is the title of my final performance piece of my second year Bachelor Of Fine Art. It concluded my 2017 study year at Monash University, Melbourne.
The formative work began as a response to a studio project entitled ” A Narrative Tale”. Initially I decided to photograph my wardrobe. This took some time and involved the photographing of four hundred and two items of clothing. All my clothes are sourced from flea markets, vintage sales, opportunity or charity shops, garage sales and online second hand sites. I habitually buy only second hand items. This is a personal habit formed over many years. Financial circumstances made recycling an initial lifestyle choice. As a visual artist I employ an ongoing aesthetic of repurposing the found object . This combined with my love of the old, quirky and undervalued has continued to inform my purchasing choices. As a weekly volunteer at a local op shop and keen sewer I have great resources and the ability to refashion rehoused items.
A thirteen hour photo shot started the process which took on many iterations over the course of the 2017 year. Photographic displays, artist books, diagrams and sculptural pieces, drawings and collages extended the theme. Further work included using large quantities of fabric to create installation pieces, which were hand dyed, silk screened, torn, stiffened or embellished in some manner, all bearing the hand of the artist. I played with fifty metres, twenty metres and ten metres of fabric in various configurations in the stairwell at Monash University Building D. It rapidly became my work space, informed my methodology and forced me to address questions of scale and spatial practice.
My final iteration of the work took the form of a performance piece at the end of year show. I recruited several helpers who were to drop their specific bag of colour coded fabric into the stairwell onto the swathe of a sixty metre piece of orange fabric hung there . It was a total of four hundred and two pieces of fabric to replicate the original four hundred and two pieces of my wardrobe.
The overall process involved a huge amount of physical labour, manual manipulation and lengthy thought process. It involved a prodigious following through of the original concept . Much collaboration was required, reliance on participants labour and skills. Uncertain as to the outcome it addressed my interest in public performance, trained me to address spatial concepts and fed my imagination. Never satisfied or appeased my restless search in my practice is continuing. What do viewers take away from a performance? How is the non static judged? How important is it to leave or maintain a permanent record of work.
Vast quantities of vintage garments, dishevelled, abandoned sewing machines and garishly printed cotton. The only problem, it was all mens wear. Sigh.
I managed to bag a few small sized shirts which I will alter to fit my frame with the help of Mum’s old Singer sewing machine. A remnant of vivid seersucker also came home with me to be transformed into a nice frock.
The fittings and fixtures are straight from the 1950’s, and provided endless fascination to my creative eye. The building has been sold, I don’t know what will become of this treasure trove of fashion and nostalgia, her heady days as a doyen of the rag trade clearly behind her!
After dining on the obligatory American/ Italian Pizza Experience at Grimaldi”s, I went to this on a dark, wet night in Dumbo, Brooklyn, under the bridge and was impressed by what I saw.
A lot of the gallery spaces were shiny, commercial enterprises with expensive art hung on the walls. One had a Shepard Fairey, of street art fame, piece that had already been sold, but giving no indication to its price. I also visited artists studios, including the Triangle Residency, who provide a fantastic program to engage in artistic practice in Brooklyn, for international artists. Whilst many of the galleries were all about selling the work, some were artist run and owned, as they were literally just selling their pieces from their workshops or studios. It gave a valuable insight into the working artists life, in the crowded New York Art Scene, and was inspiring and informative to talk to the actual artist, and not to just to view the end product, in a commercial gallery space.
I went to @ open studio last night at Popps Packing, Detroit. I met artist in residence, German photographer, Franziska Klose.
She is based in Leipzig, a German city, home to a thriving creative community.
Her work looks at how vegetation is growing in abandoned, damaged houses. This shot has chicory growing, an agricultural business my grandparents, Bess and Cuthbert Kiernan, pursued on French Island, circa 1917.
Today our Victoria University Artspace class, visited Paul Borg‘s studio. Based at home, in St Albans, he runs a workshop and studio out of his converted garage. The yard and surrounds are a plethora of found objects, recycled items and gathered paraphernalia. I got lost several times enroute, the VW’s nose not used to being pointed in a westerly direction.
Inside the studio boasts a cornucopia of work. Vast, skilfully executed oil paintings of his, and surrounding backyards, local landscapes, religious icons, and unique portraiture. An exemplary brushman, he taught at VU Flinders Campus for many years, and showed us a series of drawings he completed on his daily train commute. Application to his craft, long working hours, self discipline, and inspiration from unlikely sources, are all building blocks of his creative practice.
An informative Q&A session rounded off the interview, and we left his studio feeling privileged to be granted an expose to his work, specifically the family portraiture, which comprises a large part of his creative practice.