Artist in Residence – Intentions Go Awry

Artist in Residence

The Artist in Residence Brief

As part of the “interaction with students” in the brief for the WAFTA Artist in Residence we were encouraged to give talks to groups of students and WAFTA members towards the end of the first week, and another talk towards the end of the second week.

The AHA Moment

Early on during the residency I realised that I couldn’t really create “an exhibitions’ worth” of necklaces, bracelets, brooches, etc. Two weeks simply wasn’t enough time. This was just prior to giving the first talk. I started thinking “if that’s the case, then why am I here” – and completely changed what I was thinking about for the remainder of the 2 weeks.

The First Talk

I decided to give my first talk as I had prepared it – describing what I thought adornment was, why we adorn ourselves, what types of adornment there are and the methods/techniques used to create them. I showed slides and talked about the type of imagery that inspires me – coral reefs, sea slugs, micro/macro images etc.  Then I showed images of works by artists that inspire me: Mariko Kumusoto, Nora Fok and Arline Fisch. These 3 artists inspire me because their work is delicate, transparent, and either depicts or interprets natural elements. Nora Fok also makes some work that is her interpretation of mathematical concepts – which I also find inspirational (even though I am hopeless at maths!).

In-between the 2 Talks

I was nervous right from the start about talking to the students – that I wouldn’t be able to communicate effectively with them. I don’t really know why – they are people (just like me), they speak English (just like me), and we had a common interest in art. I kept telling myself it should be a breeze. In an attempt to reduce my nervousness I started making a mind map on the wall on the afternoon of the very first day. The artist in residence mind map was partly to show how I planned and recorded my research, and partly an artwork designed to prompt discussion between the students and myself. This took me a couple of days and then I started doing some planned experiments with thin interfacing.

Mind map for WAFTA Artist in Residence 2017

Mind map for WAFTA Artist in Residence 2017

I did a lot of the research in the 2 weeks prior to the residency so that I would be free to “make” and talk with visitors while I was there.Somehow, while I was sitting making (very repetitive, meditative work – spinning, wrapping) my mind wandered onto the questions of “what would be a big issue for young adult students?” and “how can I tailor my talk to include those issues?”

The Second Talk

I “sort of knew” that this talk would be completely different to the first – even before I gave the first talk! The second talk was supposed to be more about what the experience of being AIR was like. But I had started to think about the many media reports I had seen about Youth Suicide – and that this would be a relevant topic to weave into my second talk. So I included slides of my own work such as this one of some Shibori,

and this “Whirl” drawing, that related to being in a bit of mess.

Whirl 1 (detail), 17 Nov 2013, 58cmWx84cmH

 

I didn’t want to get really morbid – so mentioned some of the organisations that are around to help such as Youth Focus, Beyond Blue and LifeLine, as these seemed the most appropriate. If I’d been a bit better prepared I would have got hold of some brochures – but this all seemed to come “off the cuff” at the time. I wanted these young people to know that there are people who care what happens to them and are trained to help – and they are only a phone call away.

My final slide was of some work in progress.

Some paper-mache works in progress based on diatoms and radiolaria.

I got lots of hugs from fellow WAFTA members at the end of the talk, which was great because it made me feel that maybe I had communicated well with the audience. I felt really glad that I had tackled this difficult subject rather than taking the easy path and just talking about the creative side to the residency.

The Biggest Surprise

Soon after our talks, the Manager of the North Metro TAFE Shop Front Gallery asked if Robi Szalay and I would like to stay on for another week. We were thrilled and soooo happy we immediately said “yes – we’ll do it” 🙂 So then I got to thinking – well, maybe during this third week I’ll make lots of necklaces, bracelets, barrettes, brooches, anklets, ear-rings, cuff-links, bangles, beads, lariats, hair-slides, toe-rings, cuff-links, ear-cuffs, rings……

 

 

Creating Pod-like Forms

Artwork by Liz, Artwork Experiments, Uncategorized
The bamboo sticks were soaked for a couple of days and then I put them in this shoebox to dry. The sides of the shoebox prevented them from moving while they dried out. I hoped the bamboo would retain the curve once dry. June 2015

The bamboo sticks were soaked for a couple of days and then I put them in this shoebox to dry. The sides of the shoebox prevented them from moving while they dried out. I hoped the bamboo would retain the curve once dry. June 2015

I have been busy with paper mache again recently. I had ideas for our MELD exhibition last year and actually started some works but because I always apply a minimum of 10 layers, alternating used office copy paper and brown paper so that it is really strong, my paper mache forms need a long time to dry and harden.

The bamboo sticks removed from the box once they had dried – they retained the curved shape. June 2015

The bamboo sticks removed from the box once they had dried – they retained the curved shape. June 2015

So I abandoned them in favour of other work for the 2015 MELD exhibition. Now of course (a whole year later!) they are thoroughly hard and can be painted/finished off. I’m thinking I could make more for our next MELD exhibition (or some other exhibition of course) if I start now.

I enjoy making 3D forms because of their tactile qualities. I like trying to produce sensuous curves and making pieces that generate that urge to caress, stroke or touch the work. I like trying to make the work reproduce that feeling I get when I pick up a really smooth river stone or piece of sea glass – it’s impossible to resist playing with the stone – turning it over and over in my hands.

The bent bamboo being held in place by a “sticks and string” framework while I work out how to secure the ends. Turns out hot glue is the best solution for that! June 2015

The bent bamboo being held in place by a “sticks and string” framework while I work out how to secure the ends. Turns out hot glue is the best solution for that! June 2015

Maybe I’m a bit perverse – creating works that give out that vibe to touch or caress and then putting them in an exhibition situation which more often than not has signs everywhere saying “please don’t touch the artwork”.

And pods in nature often rattle because of the seeds inside don’t they? So I’ve added the “rattle factor” to some of them too. But how would the viewer know that unless they pick it up and shake it? Definitely perverse. Grin.

Sometimes hot glue is the best solution! June 2015

Sometimes hot glue is the best solution! June 2015

This bamboo armature is the start of the 3rd pod this week. The 3 triangular frames that are tied in place will be removed once the hot glue has set. They were only there to keep the 3 bent “ribs” evenly (roughly!) spaced and the ends together while I figured out how to fix the ends permanently. I tried weaving around the ends but of course as I tightened the weaving it worked it’s way down the tapered shape and off the ends. So hot glue was the solution this time around. I started 2 others as well which have a very different underlying structure.

One of the things that appeals to me about paper mache is that it uses discarded material. It does take a long time because each layer is so thin – but then most things worth doing do don’t they?

Back on Track

Uncategorized
The finished cone-shaped rice mould. The sticky tape holds all the creases of the plastic bag together to give a reasonably smooth shape. The next stage is to make the “arty” cone over this mould.

The finished cone-shaped rice mould. The sticky tape holds all the creases of the plastic bag together to give a reasonably smooth shape. The next stage is to make the “arty” cone over this mould.

The Hidden Revealed Transformed exhibition was a great success. We had over 100 people at the opening and over 200 people attend the exhibition during the following 2 weeks. We sold quite a few works. We broke even on the colour catalogue. Now I’m starting to think about new work. The Ceremonial Bowls from the exhibition which had been photographed with a tea light inside had prompted me to think about creating lanterns.

Since reading about creating 3D works over a rice mould I thought that might be the way to go for creating lanterns. You have to have an opening big enough to remove a mould. The bowls were created over a solid mould (another bowl) so the opening is very large. With a rice mould you can puncture the mould to let the rice out and then gently pull the plastic out – so the opening doesn’t have to be very large. That’s the theory – I’m about to put it to the test. I created a cone shape from old x-ray plastic (so that I can make several the same shape if it works) and covered it with a plastic bag and lots of sticky tape.

Rice Mould construction. Plastic bag over x-ray plastic cone, taped to form a shaped bag for the rice.

Rice Mould construction. Plastic bag over x-ray plastic cone, taped to form a shaped bag for the rice.

I removed the x-ray plastic and filled the bag with rice sealing the base with more sticky tape. I kept tapping and patting it into shape as I went so that it became quite solid. The next stage is to wind yarn around it, or layer paper/fabric over it, or a combination – I’m not quite sure which.