Sunday, March 4, 2012

Walk softly, Look deeply.

In mid 2011, I completed a Master of Contemporary Art and my project for this course focused on my local waterway, Coorparoo Creek.
Every day I went for walks beside it and I sketched, gleaned, gathered, observed and wondered. It was a very rewarding project and I continue to be involved with the seasons and cycles of that little waterway.

" Walk softly, Look deeply"

Artist statement for mca work              

The cornerstones for my completed works are the mangrove fruit and the pneumatophores - the two most extant motifs for renewal  and regeneration within the mangrove habitat. I juxtaposed these against  society's detritus.

 The mangrove fruit are the fleshy almond shape seed  pods of the large grey mangrove and when in season they fall from the trees and  thickly dot the ground waiting for germination. Their shape is round and bulbous and  exemplary of fecundity.

By contrast the pneumatophores are tall long cylindrical structures and their function is to aerate the silty mud. They act  as a snorkelling device sent up by the root system, and in a  word they are the "breath"  of the habitat..the basis on which everything else survives.

Rubbish permeates the entire creek system, and after months of gleaning and cleaning I reached a stage where I had to specialize in the sort of rubbish I was going to use. The most prevalent forms of garbage were the ubiquitous plastic bags and bottles, but I decided to choose children's playthings, in particular the large number of, golf, basketball, etc. They were playthings, colourful, discarded, and relevant only for society's entertainment.  I felt they reflected many people's attitude towards urban waterways.

I experimented with many forms of media not only as a way to dialogue with the habitat, but also as a means of finding eventual synthesis between the three focal points of my investigation. The media I utilized  were graphite, ink, oil, wax, mud, digital imaging, photography, plaster, bird mesh to name a few. However, I was finding it difficult to arrive at an artistic synthesis when to my mind, there was no ecological parallel. Most of the plastics there took anywhere from 15 to 1,000 years to biodegrade and this fact was the premise for a mindset that was impacting on my art practice. I was headed on a course of collision  not convergence.

The solution to my problem laid in  breaking down the two things that I kept separate and  I  adopted an inversion process for my work by reconfiguring the visual attributes of the organic with the inorganic.  The organic became the gaudy and colourful, and the rubbish was encapsulated with the mud. 

The culmination of this process was a 2d  work, "Fallen Fruit" supported by a 3d installation, "Balance".    "Fallen Fruit" appears to be a painterly work with an overlay of colourful fruit laid out in a grid pattern representing order, constancy, the rhythm and beat of the habitat.  However on closer inspection  the silhouetted shapes of rubbish emerge insidiously from the mud. Colour is the enticement for the viewer to engage with garbage.

The supporting work "Balance"  is an installation featuring bird mesh pneumatophores filled with brightly coloured balls. The wire mesh recalls the  wire fences surrounding much of the habitat and signifies  capture and curtailment, whilst also alluding to the transparency of breath, and the near invisibility of a mangrove habitat to urban society.  The gaudy balls  housed by the structures reiterate the spheres in the canvas work.

To depict fruit, pneumatophore, and garbage with  wire, colour and mud has been an artistic search for synthesis, yet my journey has become so much more on a personal level. My involvement with my " habitat" has been one of   discovery and sublime joy.

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