It has dawned on me – obviously rather belatedly – that the abandonment of my old blog-keeping habit in the attempt to finish a novel, and the ensuing failure of that attempt (an epic saga in itself which I’ll save for another day), followed by my descent into the relative silence of study and material construction – which you are shortly to hear a great deal more about – has led to rather an absence of my voice in the general arena.
Not totally, of course – I’m a right chatterbox on Facebook and I mutter away in an obscure corner of Twitter – but I recently read a Patreon profile of Chris Bonnello, the guy behind autisticnotweird.com (which was doubly fortuitous, because I hadn’t heard of him till then, despite the Aspergers in my family) and something clicked for me. I thought, the community builds around the blog. A woman who’s had three or four (make that seven) unlikely careers, a handful of awards, a couple of breakdowns and a hip replacement, who yet remains an exuberantly creative, defiantly political, resiliently mirthful, eccentrically glamorous, dirt-poor, occasionally scatterbrained but highly productive artist… is hardly going to build a profile without a blog.
This – I figure – this stream of words and images, is how I convince you that I am indeed an artist of undiscovered – hitherto unassembled – brilliance, wit, sagacity, lyric elegance and passion. That my work is worth noting, indeed, buying – that I’m altogether deserving of your support. So first a quick backstory.
Straight out of high school, I danced with the Australian Ballet. By my thirties with a degree in English and philosophy I was a dance journalist singing with rock bands and writing and performing cabaret shows. In my forties, I battled ill health and began writing a monster of a novel. (Look for discussion of it in my old blog under its working title, Last Train for the Coast.) Now in my mid-fifties, I’ve made much of my living for the past 17 years as a life model, sitting (standing, leaning, hanging, balancing, kneeling, or – everyone’s favourite – reclining) through thousands of art classes, individual journeys and breakthroughs, conversations about what art is and how it works. I’m mouthy, curious, intrinsically pluralist, naturally multidisciplinary – eventually I couldn’t stop myself from picking up some clay.
The result of that moment now some six years ago has been a rapidly developing sculptural assemblage practice. In November of this year I have the front windows of 107, the arts hub just up the road at 107 Redfern Street, to exhibit the set of dizzyingly diverse pieces that are emerging in my studio here at Redfern Art Asylum. I’ll be seeking clicks to my website (god help me, I’m still seeking website assistance) and hoping to make friends, clients and new supporters at all levels, up to and including representation by a gallery or other agent/s. I’ve never sold fine arts work before, so this is all a big experiment.
The first photos will show mostly works in progress – currently I have nine works either finished or more-or-less near completion; they include three bronzes (with mixed media), two mixed media canvases, two hanging works on board, a floating work in polystyrene and plastic (Blue Planet), a diorama built in and around a miniature glasshouse on a metre-wide wooden cut-out of Australia (White Privilege), and a full silver and porcelain tea set, a hammer, and coloured resin (Brexit, naturally). About half the works are explicitly political, the rest are experiments in form and rhythm. Actually, they’re all experiments in form and rhythm; some are also political.
Many of them, political or otherwise, are responses to found objects: Fireflier, for example, was inspired purely by the chunk of granite mantelpiece she stands on – I can cast another bronze, but I’d have to scan the base and 3D print it, and there’ll still only ever be one granite version (the other mantelpiece bracket may or may not still exist). Libida, with suitably exotic perversity, came together from a single earring, a torn-and-loved carpet, a torn-and-loved Islamic silk scarf, and a spare Christmas decoration. White Privilege was assembled in and around a loved but unneeded birthday present and a towering rage – a creative rage pitted against the destructive rage objectified as white stone in the work. We are morally obliged not to stand by at this point.
I may seem to digress, but these works are a stage in a uniquely wayward journey impelled by my passions, my politics, my talents, and my ongoing search for the skills and the grace to communicate a clear-eyed, compassionate vision. If you like them, please come to the exhibition, bring your wealthy, art-loving friends, make me an offer for your favourite, or contribute to my crowdfunding appeal now.
Above all, stay connected. Follow the story, engage with my small but loyal community of supporters – as well as our much larger and more loose-knit community of artists, activists and agents of change – as we surf the currents of a world on the move.