Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Tourism and reflections on my work

Over the last couple of days, Maurice and I have been on the tourist trail.  Yesterday we went to Fremantle on the bus and train, to go to Fremantle Prison.  I had already done the basic "Doing Time" tour, but it was sufficiently interesting to repeat it with Maurice.  This tour gives an overview of how the prison operated, the differences between convicts (people transported from Britain, typically for crimes of poverty) and prisoners (people from Australia, typically violent crimes against others); reasons for the prison's closure, a visit to the hanging chamber.  I'd quite like to do the Tunnels tour, but maybe later in Maurice's holiday.  Fremantle was fairly quiet on Tuesday - the markets only operate on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, so the Prison tour was very popular. 

Today Maurice, Jim and I rode to the pool for our swim.  The hour's bike ride to and fro, plus the half hour swim make me feel virtuous.  I'm getting noticeably stronger in the pool - after 12 swims since Christmas I'm swimming 1000m, with some 300m non-stop parts.  This is nothing compared to what I have done in the past, but my arm muscles now feel quite firm, and I'm planning to increase the overall distance to 1600m over the next couple of months, and get up to 800m non-stop. 

Maurice and I went to Perth Art Gallery in the afternoon, to look at the Brutalist architecture of the building.  I think it looks horrible from the outside, but inside, the space works amazingly well.  This shape of architecture (based on hexagons) is very successful at displaying art to good effect.  It is a far more effective art gallery than any I have been to in London, simply because the angled walls of Brutalism mean you can step back a lot further and see the art from a distance.  Sidney Nolan's 7 paintings of one panarama of the outback (each measuring about 3m x 2m) looks absolutely fantastic when seen from 10m distance.

I feel as if I have made a massive leap in understanding my work and what I want it to be, and the philosophy behind.  I want to work with furnishing fabrics for their domestic interior qualities, and their transient nature.  I am not working with deep and meaningful concepts, but things that are light and fun.  Nothing in my work is precious - I've used the phrase many times about my textile work "It's practical, not precious - Use it, Wear it out and Throw it out".  This started when I was making baby quilts when friends or family were expecting a child.  Baby quilts only get used for about a year, so please don't put it in a drawer to avoid spoiling it - it was made with love, for a child, to celebrate life.  Use it, wear it out, throw it out.  The biggest compliment you can pay my work is to wear it out.  Then practical materialism means it can be replaced. 

I've been thinking about why we make art objects - and I don't really get it. This is why I chose to study Contemporary Applied Art.  I don't want to do art, for art's sake.  I want to create things that are visually appealing, but that have a use and purpose.  I want something that will wear out and NEED to be replaced.  So domestic fabrics fit the bill.  Particularly natural fabrics which degrade.  I'm also interested in the concept of the zeitgeist, recording the significant moment (or insignificant moment) and creating fabrics of our time, which will then degrade by light or wear and tear, and be lost to history.  Practical not precious.  Not planned obsolescence but legitimate wear and tear/turnover.

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