Friday, December 16, 2011

Pre-Fab: a word from the curator

Spatial Construction IV
Work by Rosi Griffin.

So why Pre-Fab?

We all live around prefabricated and manufactured items. It is part of our everyday lives. Often we can move past these objects and materials without too much thought for them but then there are artists whose gaze are caught by the beauty within these shiny materials. They are so consistent in their form and alluring.

Pre-Fab and the works within it sit within a strong history of artists using prefabricated and manufactured materials. A classic example is of Marcel Duchamp who in 1917 presented what he called a 'ready-made' work, that of a mass produced urinal, signed R. Mutt. We have also seen super-star artists Damian Hirst and Jeff Koons create works that utilize manufacturing methods and materials with a team of workers to push their concepts to the rest of the world.
The term Pre-Fab is a shortened version of the word pre-fabricated. It's also a play on the word 'fab' and fabulous, which I think this exhibition is.

The definition of prefabricated is:

1. To manufacture in advance, especially in standard sections that can be easily shipped and assembled.

2. To make up, construct, or develop in an artificial, unoriginal, or stereotypic manner.

These 2 definitions capture, yet make fun of the ideas behind this exhibition. There are works here that have been manufactured well in advance and make use of standard shapes and sizes, such as the installation work of Veronica Caven Aldous. Even the title of this work 3 x 3 and 2 x 2 speaks in a language that we would hear at Bunnings.

However the contrast of this is the floor installation by Cristina Palacios. Her collected discarded bottle tops, lighters and other plastic caps have been carefully placed on the gallery floor during the 8 hour set up period. This work is something that evolves in a very organic manner and changes from exhibition to exhibition, whenever it is installed.

The second definition is one that I believe all of the Pre-Fab artists play with and that is the contradiction of the artificial, the unoriginal and that of the stereo-type. Margot Westhorpes' work is one that cheekily talks about ideas of stereo-type and unoriginality by the materials that she has selected. We see the striped plastic carrier bag transformed into a women's jacket. Margot aims to challenge our notions of fashion and stereotyped identity by reconstructing clothing items from cheap $2 shop materials.

However Pre-Fab isn't just about artists using manufactured items. It's also about creating works that mimic them. Both artists Jasmin Coleman and Carly Fischer trick us with their carefully handcrafted and laborious works.

Carly Fischer creates specimens of trash out of delicately cut and folded paper. Her works mimic the thrown away items found in many street gutters of fast food wrappers and cigarette butts. It is only on careful inspection that the viewer realizes that they aren't trash but very life-like artificial models created by the artists own hand.

Coleman similarly takes everyday concrete off the floor and imitates it onto a canvas. When removed from it's usual location, the 'concrete' shows a real beauty and stillness that we may not contemplate when walking though our concrete jungle.

The idea of the artificial comes up within Nikita Burt's work. Through the use of deconstructed artificial flowers, combined with plywood, Nikita maps out our relationship with the natural world and the manufactured one and how we can co-exist in both. The removed faux petals become a mark making device and another material in what is probably the most traditional looking and wall work within this exhibition. It's only on closer inspection that you can see the interplay between hard metal tacks and delicate textiles. Really a metaphor for our existence within a city environment.

Rosi Griffin explores ideas of architecture through her constructions. Inspired by the idea of a home and implied security within that structure, she has sourced her materials from building sites and hard rubbish collections. The materials within these structures show a fragility within the idea of the home but also look at the amount of waste is created via building new houses.

As you can see, there are so many themes and materials that cross all of these works and that have inspired our artists. They really have built a particular language that sits between art and the prefabricated world. It is a contemporary language and one that I hope resonates with our viewers.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

interview with Cristina Palacios

Pre-fab install 011
Cristina's work in Pre-Fab

Pre-fab install 013
A close up of the lids that form the installation by Cristina.

We asked Cristina Palacios some of the 'hard questions' regarding her large installation as part of Pre-Fab.  It took her close to 8 hours to install the hundreds of plastic lids and containers to create this work.

Cristina's discussions about her work are always fascinating, so enjoy this short interview!
I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and migrated to Australia in 1987. In my teens I lived in New York for six years and had also travelled extensively throughout Europe, Latin America and Asia.

My interest in materials, colour and patterns comes from my previous profession as a fashion designer. My research attempts to combine a wide range of different materials, processes, and influences. This reflects the diverse cultural and personal experiences throughout my life. It has been important to try and incorporate these prior histories within my art practice.

This project investigates my personal, cultural and spiritual beliefs. The circle is explored as spiritual motif, as well as notions of energy, cyclical repetition, and transformation.

My approach is interdisciplinary; however I am inspired by the hidden potential of unconventional materials, and the spontaneity of drawing practices, particularly within an installation context.

The circle throughout history has come to symbolize unity, infinity and wholeness. I believe that all life starts as a dot in the universe, a single cell or atom that transforms into matter, energy and sometimes humanity.
The circle, the spiral form, organic shapes and nature’s fractal geometry are part of my ongoing investigation.
The circle and the spiral form, represents the Universe, evolution and the spiritual growth throughout our lives. The spiral reaches out beyond the circle, and continually transforms.

Intuitive processes are employed throughout my research, particularly in relation to drawing.

My dreams are an important source material and I propose that mystical subject matter can be accessed through drawing these experiences.

‘TESTOYMIRANDO’ (IAMWATCHINGYOU) is an investigation using the body as a metaphor to convey Eastern philosophies of the ‘Mind’s Eye’. The continuous use of the circle in my work alludes to creation, life and body organs like the eye. The motif of the eye refers to photographic processes such as camera aperture, the eye as a virtual studio, the gaze, subjectivity and the void.

The Latin American sensibility of my work comes from my Argentinean heritage, and my interest in sacred forms that ritualize spirituality and mythology.

This work refers to the ‘mind’s eye’ or the ‘third eye’, which is a metaphysical and esoteric concept in Eastern and Western spiritual traditions like Buddhism and Hinduism. In New Age spirituality, the third eye may also symbolize a state of enlightenment or the evocation of subconscious images that have deeply personal spiritual or psychological significance. The third eye is also associated with visions, clairvoyance, precognition, and out of body experiences. These concepts interest me, and repetition within my work is used to create an optical field, or an experience of immersion.

The ready-made and found materials are important in my practice. I have collected discarded objects on a daily basis for many years, and incorporated these materials into artworks. I am interested in creating new potential for these waste materials, and this reflects my concerns about the superficiality of consumer culture, and our insensitivity towards nature.

Intuition, spontaneity and chance occur through the use of unconventional materials that allude to packaging and the environment, using plastic materials to play with the idea of immateriality, temporality and impermanence

‘TEESTOYMIRANDO’ is a floor-based installation made from plastic lids that I have collected for the last five years. I have ambiguous feelings about plastic as a material. On the one hand I feel extremely concerned about the proliferation of plastic in our environment and on the other I love the activity of recycling, and also the purity of the colours

Louise Bourgeois and Yayoi Kusama. Unfortunately Louise Bourgeois passed away last year.

I visited Yayoi Kusama’s exhibition titled “Mirrored Years’ at the MCA in Sydney. Yayoi has had an enormous influence in my practice, so the opportunity was there and I took it with open arms. My response to her exhibition was ‘WOW, AWESOME KUSAMA’; to see her work live was an unforgettable experience. Her versatility and her commitment to art were inspiring. Being 80 years young she still works every day in her studio in Tokyo. My dream is to meet this incredible artist one day soon.

I’m always working, I was very lucky to have a studio in the city for a period of 7 years while I was studying. That did not stop me to also work at home.  I believe my virtual- studio or brain- studio it’s always at work especially when I’m sleeping. I get into the mood by the smallest things, Nature offer’s me constant inspiration.

My taste in music is very eclectic; I listen to classical music, Opera, Jazz, Pink Floyd, Gotan Project, Tango, Hotel Costes…etc…etc…. . Sometimes only silence will do….depends on my mood. There is no perfect ‘FORMULA’

Like John Lennon I ‘Imagine’ a world with no frontiers, a world with more compassion and accountability...

I am intrigued by how humans defile the natural environment which they so revere. This enquiry into human defilement of nature inspires me to use unconventional materials; the discarded and those considered as waste, and the social meaning these materials intrinsically carry. I explore the irony that humans need to save the natural environment whilst destroy it though excessive consumerism.

My works reveals a Latin American sensibility, with strong links to both traditional art and the Neo-concrete movements in Brazil. I am also influenced by traditional Japanese art and my art combines an eclectic range of influences.

This openness is an important aspect of my practice, which aims to communicate notions of energy, transformation and potential across cultures

My goal is to build a cultural bridge without the boundaries of place, race or colour. I wish to unite and enrich myself and others. That is my commitment.

I just want to be me, at peace, content, happy and being one of the most expensive Female artists of the century.

You may ask why? I’m not a commercial artist, just because dreaming it’s free, and I can dream as big as I possibly can. It doesn’t’ cost me anything… so I dream very big….

I have a dream…. And my dream is to be able to support with my ‘expensive art’ as many self-sufficient farms I can have around the world. These farms will provide love, shelter, education and support to about ‘20 Kids’ that live in the street.

Every time Christie’s or any other auction house sells any of my work a substantial percentage of the money auctioned will go to support these ‘Farms.

That it’s my dream……

Monday, December 12, 2011

Interview with Veronica Caven Aldous

If you are addicted to colour, then you will adore Veronica's works.  We thought we would add this little video work so you can see how the colours change and draw the viewer into a hypnotic state.

Enjoy this little interview with Veronica...

Tell us about yourself! Where are you from?
Born East Melbourne. I have travelled around Australia, to many countries and lived also in Sydney, Perth, The Netherlands and India.

How would you describe your work?
Always changing, interested in an engaging experience and playing in an interface with painting.

What materials do you work in?
Many, from oil paint to anything at all.

Tell us why/how your work fits in to the Pre-Fab idea?!
Materials used and the interface with manufacturers.

What achievement are you most proud of to date?
In life……… long have you got?

In art ………..never thought about it. Where I am now is pretty good. Working on a PhD at Monash, after MVA at VCA, exhibiting from time to time, with a supportive flow and communities of other artists and people interested in art to engage and interact with.

What's your work practice like?
Mostly in my head, sometimes around the house and in gallery spaces.

Do you work in a studio/home?
Studio is at home but I visit a few factories and discuss ideas with manufacturers.

What gets you in the mood to create?
Sometimes an idea from last work and sometimes random things or timing.

Is there a soundtrack to your creativity? Do you have music or silence?
Silence and much time goes by.

What do you think people will take away with them from seeing your work?
Possibly some memory of engagement….whatever the material used, the halting of thoughts to consider something else caused by the materiality of the work.

Where do you want to be in 10 years time? What's your dream?!
I once heard an answer to the question what is a successful artist answered by John Scurry, at MARS Gallery, Port Melbourne, he said…… that is still going. My goals are somewhere in that space.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

We Chat to Carly Fischer...

Carly Fisher 2
One of the works by Carly Fisher on show in Pre-Fab

Tell us about yourself! Where are you from?
I’m originally from Melbourne and completed my BFA at RMIT in 2000. After a few years working in the Melbourne art scene, I decided to go and live in Tokyo for 1 ½ years, to be surrounded by the pristine fabrication and presentation that was emerging in my work. After returning to Melbourne for a year, I left again for Berlin, where I have largely been until now. So I would say I’m actually from a few places and so is my work!

How would you describe your work? What materials do you work in?
My practice explores the increasing fabrication of our contemporary reality, where its very substance is being homogenised, gentrified, globalised, reproduced, mass-produced and sold back to us as commodity and cliché. I’m interested in the effect this has on our relationship between place and placeless ness, as the local and personal specificities of our environment are becoming more and more generic.

Through my work, I comment on these tendencies through mimicry, creating homogenous paper replicas of the mundane detritus that litters our everyday. These models are installed in different, often large-scale arrangements that replicate the street scenes they are based on. Aside from the installations, the models are made into smaller sculptures that resemble sets and collectables.

Tell us why/how your work fits in to the Pre-Fab idea?!
Instead of referencing industrial fabrication and mass-production through obvious forms, I’m interested in interrupting our expectation of objects through ambiguity. My sculptures could pass for factory-made replicas, but they are not. Although mimicking such manufacturing through labourious repetition and generic replication, the paper models are entirely hand-made and essentially fragile and intimate. Their source, industrial refuse dumped on the street, references the vulnerable side of mass-production; hard rubbish piles of out-dated products, abandoned construction site debris, warehouse squat spaces in transition and scrunched up packaging blowing around in the gutters. Spending time remaking the throwaway initially seems redundant, but intends to question the very limitations of fabrication itself.

What achievement are you most proud of to date?
Living in different countries and sticking it out for a decent enough time to move past being a tourist and understand the culture. I’m particularly interested in this balance, between a localised knowledge of place, and the more globalised and pre-conceived tourist perspective. Furthermore, I think living in non-English speaking countries has been a huge achievement; feeling helpless, like an outsider and being in the position of an (voluntary) immigrant. It has been important for understanding people as much as heightening my awareness of my surroundings spatially.

What's your work practice like? Do you work in a studio/home? What gets you in the mood to create?
My process involves a lot of studio-based time in production. To balance this, I take a lot of walks around the streets in between. I actually gather most of my ideas while walking the streets, as my subject is often the refuse that collects there. Some of this trash is photographed or taken back to the studio as source material for my paper models. Although the form and process of my work is quite consistent, it has had to adapt to living in different cities and the availability of working spaces as a result. These limitations have often produced new work; in Berlin I had a tiny basement space for a couple of months that resulted in working in miniature.

Is there a soundtrack to your creativity? Do you have music or silence?
Music is a huge part of my working process. The lyrics that I listen to in the studio or while walking the streets influence the form and also the title I give to my sculptures and installations. Sometimes a work is made in response to a lyric, or a lyric is searched for that fits a finished work. Similar to reproducing the trash through fabricated models, the titles of my work appropriate the personal sentiments of lyrics.

What do you think people will take away with them from seeing your work?
I hope that my sculptures and installations act as triggers for people to re-notice the increasing fabrication of their everyday reality. As the objects I replicate are both local and global, it’s interesting to explore their relevance when re-contextualised to different places. The sculptures in Pre-Fab were made in Berlin and reference Berlin trash; although many of the brands are global, their specificities are local (McDonald’s packets look slightly different in Australia!). I’m interested in spending time looking at and fabricating the mundane stuff we step on everyday, so that people might step differently when they walk out into the street. In Berlin, after seeing my installations, people have commented on how they “see my work everywhere on the street.” It’s funny.

Where do you want to be in 10 years time? What's your dream?!
I would love to be able to work between places. As my practice is largely concerned with the relationship between the local and global, working directly with and about different international spaces is important to its development and relevance. I’m interested in creating site-specific installations that ‘travel,’ re-contextualised to other cities and back to Australia. It would be great to be based in Australia, but I’m happy to follow any good opportunities to live and work with different communities, cultures and spaces.

You can find out more about Carly's amazing works via her website definitely check it out, her larger scale installations are beautiful!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Interview with Margot Westhorpe

Pre-fab install 009
View of the amazing jackets and hats made by Margot Westhorpe.

We chat with Margot Westhorpe about her works for Pre-Fab.  This is the first time Margot has exhibited at Town Hall Gallery and her jacket made from a $2 striped plastic bag featured on the Pre-Fab invitation cover too!

Tell us about yourself! Where are you from?
I have travelled extensively with my husband and three daughters, living for extended periods in England and Sweden. After leaving full time teaching I have pursued my interest in Chinese studies and completed a PhD in Chinese identity. I consider myself a full time experimental visual artist. In my current work I draw on my life experiences as well as gender and cultural studies in order to explore the ways women live their lives in a contemporary global environment.

How would you describe your work? What materials do you work in?/
Tell us why/how your work fits in to the Pre-Fab idea?!
While I love to mix oil on canvas, I find using ceramics, paper, plastic, and textiles; to express my ideas, is an exciting way to express my ideas. Appropriating these readymade products allows flexibility in constructing art and sculpture pieces as well as increasing depth of analysis. Plastic is also the chosen material for mass produced items which have come to represent our society and the times in which we live. The theme PRE-FAB defines the ways in which artists have adopted the mass produced items from the factories and emporiums of our cities to construct and create sculptural works which were once considered illegitimate in the world of art.

In my work I employ the mass-produced objects sold in the iconic “$2 shop” which operates in almost every shopping centre and mall. Targeting bargain hunters of every age group, these shops are renowned for their gaudy presentation and often bizarre products. Their stock includes items made of “shiny, plastic and metal materials”. Buyers are amazed by their vivid colours and kitsch design, particularly in a society which favours the bland. In appropriating these gaudy objects, which include every imaginable household, decorative and personal item, I have created a series of wall works and small scale sculptures in order to explore gender, ethnicity and Chineseness, in our consumer society. This focus is refined in several works where my concentration is on the ways in which China’s social, political and economic policies have impacted on Chinese women, in both China and Australia.

What achievement are you most proud of to date?Completing my PhD has been both challenging and rewarding. When I left university in the 1970s, I never imagined that I would return to study Mandarin or to complete a doctorate in education and gender. I recognise now that there are no restrictions in life, and understand that what is imaginable is possible.

What's your work practice like? Do you work in a studio/home? What gets you in the mood to create?
I work at home in a small studio. The inspiration “to create” comes is often spontaneous and often after considerable deliberation.

Is there a soundtrack to your creativity? Do you have music or silence?
Mostly I work in silence, allowing the work to move freely and towards its own specific conclusion.

What do you think people will take away with them from seeing your work?
I hope that when people look at my work they will understand that there are multiple ways of understanding. When they see the utilitarian and mundane objects which I employ – possibly in a combination which they have never considered before – they will acknowledge new possibilities which they have previously not considered.

Where do you want to be in 10 years time? What's your dream?!
In 10 years time I would like to have refined my artistic practice and of course, be a much better artist!

Don't forget that Pre-Fab is on display until Saturday 17 December!