work / STUDIES 2009
Greenaway Art Gallery
16 Oct - 15 Nov 2009
Botanist of the sidewalk.
When beginning a project I often set myself locality ‘boundaries’ which vary from just a few streets around my studio to entire suburbs, and recently with the L.A. Project, whole cities. The work becomes a documentation of time and place, a unique reference to when and where it was made. This connection to place and the recording of personal experience as I navigate within defined borders has always been at the core of my practice. This often takes the form of collected material arranged on small panels, collectively known as ‘Journals’ made over a period of many months. Used condoms and condom wrappers found in the local park, sections of stained mattresses left on the street,confetti from church weddings, broken glass and taillights from accident scenes, discarded childrens drawings and family photographs are examples of found materials used in the past to document my experience within the urban landscape. It is the various narratives, told, untold or alluded to inherent in the material that I find so appealing , these are the human stories that connect us all and evidence of a lived experience.
Although the trajectory of my practice over the past 5 years has focused primarily on painting, the core tenets of my interests are still evident in the collection and documentation of found material used as reference for my paintings. This is an important and necessary device because this material provides important clues for the viewer between the studies/paintings,the collected material and the environment.
The French term ‘Flanuer’ described by the writer Charles Bauldalaire as – ‘a person who walks the city in order to experience it’ seems an appropiate one when describing my practice. Over the years the idea of the Flaneur has accumulated significant meaning as a referent for understanding urban phenomena and modernity.
'Bauldelaire saw the Flaneur as having a key role in understanding, participating and portraying the city. A Flaneur thus displayed a double role in city life and in theory. that is, while remaining a detached observer. This stance, simultaneously part and apart from, combines sociological, anthropological, literay and historical notions of the relationship between the individual and the greater populace. Bauldelaire asserted that social changes brought by industrialization demanded that the artist immerse himself in the metropolis and become, “a botanist of the sidewalk” a man of the people who enters into the life of his subjects with passion'.
The conceptual premise of my practice is underpinned by the apropriation of readymade abstract designs that exist in the urban environment. Stripped from their original context these elements are elevated from their often prosaic or mundane states and become a celebration of the overlooked. From street signage, outdoor advertising, product packaging. book and record covers store packaging, patterns on trucks and the angular designs from the sides of caravans. I consider anything and everything as possible reference for my work as I navigate the landscape.
What attracts me to certain types of forms and designs beyond their abstract potential is the often prosaic, everyday qualities that mark them as almost invisible to most people. I am interested in how people perceive the things around them, how often the simplest things go unnoticed, I am attempting to re-present these things back to the viewer as new way of looking at abstraction which sits somewhere between high and low art. A language of form stripped from popular culture without heirachy that can be enjoyed and understood by all audiences.
I have also begun using the internet to collect reference forms as I search various websites. I can imagine that with the avalanche of material provided by the internet that the idea of literal boundaries will dissapate and that in the future location will become irrelevant.The Colvin Potato Chip Showbag from the Melbourne Show in the early 1970’s which I recently saw sold on ebay is an example of an internet find. The particular colour combination of purple and orange triggered memories of the Cornwall group of painters such as William Scott and Patrick Herron, particularly their work from the mid 1970s
I am interested in exploring further these particular associations with abstract forms or incidental abstract details that can trigger memories of places ,events or associations with other artists works. It is partly my relationship to the historical lineage of abstract form and the memories triggered by these dialogues that I find so interesting and which in turn informs my practice These connections and exchanges within the language of form are endless and it is these personal interactions, associations and memories that underpin this new work.
All Studies 33cm x 33cm / Acrylic on plywood / 2009