Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Learn more about our Community Project Wall

As the deadline for applications for the 2016 Community Project Wall exhibition program looms nearer, we thought it would be a good opportunity to give you an insight into what it's like to exhibit with us. Marion Piper, our Gallery & Curatorial Assistant, recently sat down with local artist Margot Westhorpe to talk about her experience as an exhibiting artist in 2014.

Margot Westhorpe (centre) with family and friends at the exhibition launch.


Marion Piper [MP]: You exhibited on our Community Project Wall in 2013. Why did you apply to show with us?
Margot Westhorpe [MW]: In 2011, I applied to THG to join an exhibition curated by Mardi Nowak entitled PREFAB. I was fortunate to have some mixed media pieces accepted. These works originated from my doctoral thesis on the ways in which young Chinese students in Australia construct their identifies. When the THG was closed for refurbishment, like many local artists, I felt the loss of a supportive arts community. When the THG reopened, with its beautiful the Community Project Wall gallery, I was very excited to have the opportunity to apply.

[MP]: What was the project you exhibited? 
[MW]: My exhibition was entitled On The Wall. Continuing my interest in identity, I decided to focus on the ways in which the pieces we choose to adorn our walls reflects our individual identities. 

On The Wall, Margot Westhorpe exhibition, installation view.

[MP]: Can you talk us through the process you went through in developing the works for that exhibition?

[MW]: Having established the exhibition focus, the challenge for me was to find ways to demonstrate the concept and determine the media that I would use. This led me to consider the choice of decoration that my family - and others - placed on their families. Fine china, flying ducks and encyclopaedias, were essential features in homes during the middle of the 20th century. This initiated a search for the symbolic items of my past, which could also be recognised by the viewers of my works. In this way the journey began.

Detail of In the Dining Room 1 (2014), porcelain on canvas, 52 x 52 cm.

[MP]: How was your experience working with the THG curatorial team? Did you find the guidance useful?
[MW]: The curatorial staff were exceptional in their consideration and understanding of my artistic aims. I cannot speak highly enough of their professional skills, in the ways the pieces were hung and their communication with me. The curators organised the way in which the exhibition was presented and advertised. Assistant Curator Dr. Kent Wilson completed a short video on the exhibition, and Gallery Assistant Marion Piper also spoke at the opening. Their input contributed to the way viewers understood my ideas and the exhilaration I felt about my work being exhibited.

[MP]: What do you believe was the most beneficial thing that came out of your exhibition on the Community Project Wall? 
[MW]: As a result of having an exhibition on the Community Project Wall, my art practice took a more dedicated turn - exploring new ideas and new media. Since exhibiting in 2014, I have retained my interest in identity but considered the ramifications of identity construction and the ways in which we shape our identities in different situations - in different times and places. I have also explored different textures and techniques in order to demonstrate the intricate shaping of who we are within our social frameworks.

Detail of Disyoke - Divers (2014), paper on canvas, 102 x 76 cm.

[MP]: If you could go back in time and offer yourself one piece of advice in the lead up to that exhibition, what would it be?
[MW]: This is a difficult question - hindsight is easy and the lessons we learn from one situation may not be applicable in another situation. I suppose determination is essential in achieving any goal. My goal was to present the best work I could in a specific time frame and trust that my ideas would be apparent. Nevertheless, the exhibition On The Wall, evolved and was still evolving when I delivered the collection to the gallery. 

[MP]: If our readers want to find out more about you, where can they go? (Website, social media page, etc)?
[MW]: At present, I am working in collaboration to develop a website which will feature my work and my ideas. This is proving to be another way of understanding my own art practice and my conceptual foundations.


Town Hall Gallery will be accepting applications for the 2016 Community Project Wall until Tuesday 30 June 2015 at 5pm. Application materials can be found here.

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