Sometimes it’s difficult to hear and accept a person’s point of view, especially when that view is prejudicial and unfairly directed at a certain community of people. But at the same time I’d rather someone spoke their mind. Australians can be a reserved bunch, and I’ve found it often takes longer to connect on a meaningful level with people here than when I’m overseas. So in many ways it’s refreshing to have someone speak their mind.
I often encounter prejudice in the form of a snide comment from a person that is usually waiting for an agreeing nod or a snigger, like we’re all in on it. I’m still taken aback when it happens, particularly when it’s directed at the homeless. I’m not going to list the assumptions made about them here, but like always with prejudice against ‘other’ people the manner of stereotyping assumes that ‘they’ are ‘all the same’.
Last night I attended a Community Dinner at the Maroochy Neighbourhood Centre. My experience was that none of the people who were there for a communal free meal, access to nurses, a laundry van and other vital services were the same at all. I met unique individuals who were generous in their time and conversation. Sincerity is what I experienced, a rare and precious aspect of humanity that is often difficult to come by, and humbling when in such abundance as I experienced at the Neighbourhood Centre. We laughed, we philosophised, and for the first time I was asked how I answered the questionnaire.
On the first day, there is always a bit of an uncomfortable, unreal sensation that goes with stepping out into the public realm with an invitation to interact with a project. It is a process that involves a clear prerogative, and usually a script. It also involves care and openness from the artist when meeting new individuals within a community. And, the invitation to interact must inspire more than reciprocation; it has to strike a cord within the individual and the community you are connecting with.
On my first venture I hit the streets of Maroochydore from my HQ at the Lock-up, and headed to the library. In front of the library there is a magnificent old cotton tree that creates a perfectly shaded canopy over some public seating. This is where I popped out my sign ‘your advice please’. I had a clipboard prepped with a questionnaire that might reveal something of a local character, both aesthetically and metaphysically.
To familiarise myself with my new location and ease myself into my new role I photographed my surroundings. These images, along with audio field recordings, will go towards creating location portraits.
I broke the ice by asking a lady leaving the library if she would mind taking a picture of me ‘on the job’. She became the first person to share her insight into what it is to live with Integrity on the Sunshine Coast.
The aesthetic experience of the Sunshine Coast was written out in blues, yellow and crashing waves on the beach.
The metaphysical experience was a lot more complex and intimate.
It seems that there are fundamental elements that epitomise a community, but the individual lends a dynamism through which it can thrive.
Two years ago I spent a week in this White Space and the surrounding countryside battling through a rigorous process of art making. It was challenging and ultimately taught me a lot about how I work. Reading over my blog posts from that week I realised that connecting to places and people has been central to my work for years.
When I read about the Leviny Sisters at Buda I thought I was reading a fairytale. It's a history that fascinates me. The complete redecoration of their late father’s house with their own handiwork in the philosophy and style of the Arts and Crafts movement spoke to my imagination. A persistent image I had been grappling with for months was of a woman transforming herself into a wild thing by sewing herself a second skin from her fur coat. When I read about the sisters I knew this place was somehow in the same world as my vision.
Further research has lead me into the lives of the Leviny family, the Arts and Crafts movement, and literature of the time including Virginia Woolf. What started as a hunch that this place may be interesting has turned into a dance for joy.
A quick list of some things I’ve noticed in my research:
- An integrated process of design and making,
- material honesty and integrity,
- accessible good design for all households,
- women finding creative spaces domestic or not,
- and an interest in medieval craft
These are just some of the ideas and themes that are relevant to my own work, and I recognise in the work of my peers and in the international art world. I will extrapolate on them in future posts.
So in brief my project SKIN is focused on the domestic space as creative space through the story of the Leviny sisters at Buda. Key questions in researching this are: What does producing creative work at home do to the domestic space? How does the environment and surroundings affect the work? And this relationship between home and creativity, does it affect the way makers and viewers value, interact with and understand the work? The development showing at the end of the residency will be a combination of craft and performance, in Buda house.
--------- Blog 6: Surveying coordinates
I made the most of the sunny morning and took the theodolite out to practice some coordinating movements.
Exercise 1: Aligning the theodolite to the concrete walkway:
Exercise 2: Pivoting to gaze into the field:
Spotted a friend in the yard... I think I was being surveyed...
Exercise 3: Surveying the path:
--------- Blog 5.2: measuring the library
On Thursday and Friday I set up in the foyer of the Castlemaine Library, and took to exploring the brickwork as a new unit of measure...
--------- Blog 5.1: measured walking
Today's excercise was to examine the path out the front of Punctum's ICU space where I am working. I wanted to know how the path moved, how its incline altered my movements and footsteps, and if there was any way to measure these concrete-footstep-movements.
Questions to consider: How might a concrete path move? How might we walk-with a footpath?
There was a lot of stumbling, balancing, and awkward walking....
We made lists with a small group of women today:
The sum of our parts
Eat it too
We performed some material we created in the last few weeks, asking what the text, objects and images brought to mind:
She was left wanting fries, just as some are left wanting with motherhood.
Why are there good eggs and bad eggs, or good parents and bad parents.
We wonder if any of the material confronts or offends, and why.
This morning, we pulled our shopping trolley (full of props, clothes, and stuff) on a dirt road from the house we were staying at to Kangaroo Flat station. A 45-minute brisk walk.
We overlooked to take a photo as we were too mesmerized by a herd of kangaroos.
“Quick! Take a photo of the kangaroos!”
Later in the evening, we took a photo of the trolley at the station to prevent further regret. We have to document the trolley.
This is what the trolley on the dirt road might have looked like.
If you had a child, what food item would they be?
CARROT. My son adores carrots to the point of obsession – carrot themed decorations, carrot tattoo (fake), carrot toys etc.
CHOCOLATE HEART. My chocolate heart that walks around outside of my body, sweet & delicious out there in the world.
We are looking into symbolism in performance.
Jude asks how engagement with audience at this early stage of our process may influence the form of the work? Are the activities we have undertaken with our potential audience simply creative research, or could these activities (list making, curious questions) be incorporated into the final artwork?
One of us is off to Europe, then one of us is off to have a baby (cake). We were serious when we said: this is a performance project and life project whisked and folded into one.
------- Blog 4: moss as measure
An exercise in finding different scales of attention. In this case, the moss growing in between the footpath, gutter and road.
The moss growth becomes a new scale to measure by. Marking the moss as measurement onto a surveying pole, this recalibrates the measurements of my footsteps as I walk along the side of the road.
----------- Blog 3.2: surveying: walking paths
17/07/16 afternoon, partly cloudy, top 13C.
Using a folding-survey-ruler I attempted to measure the footprints and tracks on the path, and the distances between rocks, leaves, broken sticks, mud, etc.
A person and two large dogs came walking past - the dogs were very eager to say hello and add new paw prints to the ground...