Adam Anderson amalgamates performance, jewellery, costumery, photography, and video to explore fetish as a method through which identity is considered for both its innate and performed qualities. His most recent work, Pearl (2019), explores fetish as a vehicle to create and destroy reflexively performed identities that are laborious to achieve and maintain. In her latest photographic series, Tether (2019), Jacinta Giles interrogates the slippery shift between fiction and reality in a digitally fixated society. By reconstructing television content through experimental photographic processes, Giles explores themes relating to memory, witnessing, and the affect of mediality. Annelize Mulder combines experiences of human migration with concepts of belated trauma. Best-laid Plans (2019)is a hanging sculpture produced from fabric and polyurethane that emulates migrant experiences as they attempt to settle in Australia. Initiated from a personal perspective and explored through the body as metaphor, Mulder aims to capture an extraordinary sense of vulnerability. Making visual reference to ‘ghosting’—a term used to describe the permanent imprint of an image onto the surface of a screen through over exposure—Ghost Light(2019) by Victoria Wareham draws from multiple areas of lens-based practice, ranging from 16mm film to HD video, to challenge the relationship of the viewer to the screen-based image. A Blue Landscape (2019) is an immersive installation by artist Rachael Wellisch. Comprising of indigo infused salvaged textiles and a soundscape developed with Peter Houtmeyers and Eric Fassbender, this work offers a unique insight into the relationship between waste and landscape within the Anthropocene.
I have been working on a new collaborative work with performance and film artist Athene Currie. Athene’s practice explores temporality and transformations through menopause and she repeatedly uses sheets in her performances. Also currently engaged with rituals around connecting with natural cycles, her work overlays beautifully with mine and the impermanent nature of a mandala, so a textile mandala I had created of indigo dyed salvaged bedsheets Athene then performed through, which included the dissolution of the mandala.
Gearing up now for an upcoming group exhibition in Launceston, Tasmania during May, titled Tether. A pretty exciting show with some of my fellow Queensland College of Art doctoral candidates and all-round stars. Tether is an exhibition of new work by Brisbane-based artists Adam Anderson, Jacinta Giles, Annelize Mulder, Victoria Wareham and Rachael Wellisch. Toying with memory, alchemy, and identity, the exhibition asks, ‘what is it to be tethered?’. Occupied with exposing concealed knowledge, this cohort of contemporary artists use a variety of media to find new ways to re-evaluate our existence in a hyper-mediated world.
The exhibition at Onespace has now drawn to a close and bumped out, which signals the conclusion of the Wild Remembering project.
I am delighted to announce that one of the works created during this project, Recuperated Material Monumentshas been selected as a finalist in the Wangaratta Contemporary Textiles Award,a biennial acquisitive award & exhibition celebrating the diversity and strength of Australia’s textile artistry. The exhibitionat Wangaratta Art Gallery runs from 1stJune until 11thAugust, 2019.
An article by Louise Crossen for Griffith News.
“Queensland College of Art students have won international acclaim with a new exhibition that tackles some of the most pressing issues of the 21st century, from environmental sustainability and social inequality to gender politics”. Read more here:
Perfectly timed with International Women’s Day, our artists talk was chaired by Jay Younger. Jenny Watson kindly opened the show with a few words.
Here is just a little cluster of the crafty words put together by Lisa Bryan Brown for the catalogue of the exhibition of Wild Remembering at Onespace Gallery.
“Wildernesses: Fabric and Form. A slick, iridescent substance bubbles away, seductively. Ghostly figures writhe in vivid blue expanse. Intricate, peculiar forms demand intimate inspection. The weight of something deeply spiritual hangs gently in the air. Wild Remembering brings together works by Emma Gardner, Claudia-Maria Luenig and Rachael Wellisch, three artists driven by their research into aspects of the human condition and united by their shared interests in contemporary textile practices. Each artist works with specific materials and techniques that carry with them particular significance, allowing the creation of meaning to occur through both process and form. Performativity and embodied practice are critically important to each, with the artist’s active body playing a fundamental role within each of their practices. It is the points at which their thematic concerns overlap, and those from which they diverge, that prove fertile for contemplative consideration. Grappling with their distinct but fundamentally existential concerns, Gardner, Luenig and Wellisch’s works are unified through shared themes of fluidity, nature and labour, key concepts that recur across each artist’s works. Individually however, each is preoccupied with their own specific investigations; Wellisch into the relationship between nature and culture; Gardner into the connections between self and nature; and Maria-Leunig into the boundaries between body and spirit.”
Lisa Bryan-Brown is an independent writer and curator working in Brisbane. She has published articles for Art Monthly and Freerange Journal, and essays for galleries including Sullivan and Strumpf, Griffith University Art Museum, Artisan, Seventh Gallery and MetroArts. She has published essays and curated group exhibitions for numerous Artist Run Initiatives and sits on the management committee for OuterSpace ARI.
Historian Otto Domonkos, is the author of Indigo Dyeing in Hungary,a book which I was fortunate to get a hold of while in Hungary.The book touches on the history of dyeing from Medieval commerce and Oriental trade to the families in Hungary who established and developed the practices. It is a detailed resource on the spread and technological advancements of indigo use and the print block making that went along with it in Hungary.
The associations with transformation that occur in an indigo dye vat have been used historically to reflect the spiritual transformations in human rites of passage, such as initiations or rituals around death. Even when synthetic indigo became widespread in certain places—for example, areas of Indonesia—ceremonial textiles still required the use of natural dyes. All of my processes offer ritualistic, meditative practice and a connection with my materials due to the time and labour that goes into my work.
Working with an active indigo vat provides an opportunity to work collaboratively with nature through alchemical processes as one way of thinking ecologically during artmaking. The central theme of David Abrams book, The Spell of The Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World, is that there exists a separation between the embodied human and the natural world, which has lead to environmental disregard. Abrams, states that ‘genuine artistry, does not impose a wholly external form upon some ostensibly “inert” matter, but rather allows the form to emerge from the participation and reciprocity between the artist and his materials, whether these materials be stones, or pigments, or spoken words. Thus understood, art is really a co-operative endeavour, a work of co-creation in which the dynamism and power of earth born materials is honoured and respected.’ Of interest here is how Ellen Mara De Wachter discusses collaborating in Co-Art: Artists on Creative Collaboration, the practice of collaborating raising questions about the impact on the isolating, individualist elements of capitalism.
When Australian artist Jenny Watson knew we had secured an exhibition in basement gallery, she arranged to have her own opening in Vienna at Galerie Straihammer and Seidenschwann just a couple of days prior to ours. We, of course, were delighted with this as it meant an esteemed and established Australian artist, and us as emerging artists (all female), showing and representing Australia in Vienna at the same time, attended also by the Australian Ambassador in Austria, Dr Brendon Hammer.
An early morning train from Budapest to Vienna, our accommodation is directly adjacent to the gallery and we woke the next morning to a beautiful light fall of snow…such a delight! The gallery space is small but a good size for the three of us to each show something. White, plaster rendered walls and a black painted concrete floor, slightly arched ceilings with simple, bar fluorescent lights, and several windows and the entrance door along one wall. The gallery serves as Claudia’s studio and function space in between exhibitions, and she lives upstairs. She has run the exhibition program since 2004 addressing yearly themes including artists visiting from countries as diverse as Armenia, Thailand, Bulgaria and Germany among others. Directly beside the gallery our accommodation was in the clean and quiet, Zum Goldene Kegel Hostel.
The next day we drove across the other side of the country to the Museum of Blue Dyeing in Pápa- word had spread an Australian was looking at indigo, so when I arrived despite officially being closed I was offered a warm and generous welcome.Gabriella Széki, Judit Farkas-Széki are the creative team behind Örökkék Everblue and they were gracious and generous hosts who despite being busy with their own blue dyeing business were kind enough to answer my questions and show me their working techniques which included making new contemporary fashion garments using antique printing blocks from the museum’s collection.ManniBata was also there to open the museum after hours so that we could see all the exhibits in our own personal tour. It was an amazing experience!
Hired a car and hit the countryside with fellow AQB art resident, photographer Pamela Calore. We drove to a working indigo dye studio belonging to the family of János Skorutyák in Bácsalmás, down south quite close to the Serbian border. It is currently run by Zoltán Bakos who kindly took time to show us through all the processes, the studio and museum artefacts. The whole experience was wonderful but the most intriguing element, one that will require more research was discovering potential links with my own family name as indigo dyers!
Stayed overnight in ‘Szlavi Apartman’ in Baja (booked through Booking.com), and would definitely recommend as it was clean, spacious and conveniently located, all for less than AUD$50 per night. In the morning, I had a wonderful breakfast with some delightful friendly service at a little café called ‘PressO-Coffe and more’. Go there and say hi!
Visited the small, strange Golden Eagle Pharmacy Museum. with lots of artefacts purportedly related to the practice of alchemy. The printed information stated that the 15th century building served as a laboratory for alchemists until Turkish occupation in the middle ages, after which it was the Golden Eagle pharmacy and a museum for the last 35 years. The exhibits included medicinal books, pots and jars for spices, plants and pigments, distilling apparatus, scales, mortars and pestles… but most notably and yet unexplained, a mummified head. Was a stunning walk up through the gardens to the castle grounds, just in time to view the Fishermans Bastian at sunset.
Also visited the Király baths, an un-renovated medieval Turkish bath built in the sixteenth century during the time of Ottoman rule. For entrance with locker the student rate is 1900 HUF = approx $10 (full is 2500 HUF). I can’t say whether it’s my Hungarian roots feeling entirely at home when I’m ‘taking the waters’, just as people have been doing for centuries here, but the baths are my favourite thing to do specific to Budapest.
A little frustrated as I’ve visited lots of art, craft and textiles supply shops looking to buy indigo dye but no one seems to have it or knows where to get it. I decided to go to Goldberger Textiles Museum. It was a nice modern museum with well signed displays in both Hungarian and English, some interactive displays and elements for kids. It wasn’t large but was laid out chronologically describing the history of the textiles company founded by the Goldberger family and how the industry changed through the years. For anyone with an interest in Hungarian textiles production it is a worthwhile visit. Another interesting spot was the Magyar Népi Iparművészeti Múzeum where I made contact with some indigo dyers and got an invitation to attend a fashion parade of kékfestő fabrics made into traditional style garments.
Fighting FOMO at Art Quarter Budapest…
One of the initial pressures I feel taking part in an artist residency is to make a whole lot of work, to maximise the opportunity of being here in Budapest, Hungary. What I’m already realising is that a really big part of it is being away from my usual routine – that means family and other commitments – so sitting around thinking, all day and night if I will only allow myself, is an extra-ordinary luxury. As a chronic and severe sufferer of FOMO, I feel the compulsion when travelling to ram in as much as I can see and do, and eat. I want to leave this studio so bad to go see all the Budapest stuff and eat all the things and see the galleries, but I’m struggling through and just staying in the studio for now.
As a Doctor of Visual Arts candidate there are a series of milestones to meet and I am super happy to have just completed the 2nd most important – Confirmation of Candidature (the most important is of course completing the doctorate altogether). After submitting my paper to my supervisors and external assessor, and presenting my research to date, I received questions and feedback, but was relieved to have the research and so much hard work positively acknowledged.
Ecological artist Ruth Wallen offers examples in her research on how, through ecologically engaged art, dialogue is generated and can inform ‘environmental value systems’, ‘ecological ethics’, ‘global justice’ and ‘ecological responsibility’. Likewise, ecotheological activist Michael S. Hogue argues that it is aesthetic experience that can engender a moral sense of nature. He declares a responsibility of artists to respond to the environmental crisis using images, stories and symbols, reshaping human perception, to give voice to ‘mute things’. Through an overview of artworks and research, ecologist David Curtis argues that the arts have a vital role in shaping values, educating, creating empathy for nature, drawing attention to consumption and presenting Indigenous perspectives which may connect us to our environment. Cofounders of CLIMARTE: Art + Environment, Guy Abrahams and Bronwyn Johnson, also attest to arts’ ability to bridge the gap in cultural understanding between climate science and policy for a positive change.
Ruth Wallen, Ecological Art: A Call for Visionary Intervention in a Time of Crisis, (Leonardo Volume 45, Issue 3 2012), 234-242, Michael S. Hogue, ‘The Art of Ecological Responsibility’, American Journal of Theology & Philosophy, Vol. 31, No. 2 (May 2010), pp. 136-146, David Curtis, Building Sustainability with the Arts, (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2017)., Guy Abrahams and Bronwyn Johnson, Art + Climate = Change(Melbourne University Press, 2016).
Thinking about how humanity is actually an entangled part of nature and not separate from it seems to me a critical part of changing the relationship between humans and the environment on which we depend. This is a key element of my practice and some of my current research into this is truly alarming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released reports confirming a global scientific consensus, examining peer-reviewed journals and expert research, of anthropogenic climate disruption. The 2014 report states: “Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gasses are the highest in history”. Some of the cited changes to climate include ocean warming, increased precipitation, increased ocean salinity and acidification, loss of polar ice mass, and rising sea levels. Some of the impacts of this include changes to water resources (quantity and quality), plant and animal species loss, reduction in crop yield undermining food security, increasing displacement of people, and an uneven distribution of risks ‘generally greater for disadvantaged people’.
IPCC, Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report Summary for Policymakers, (https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/syr/AR5_SYR_FINAL_SPM.pdf, 2014). Ibid, 2, Ibid, 13