Equivalence, AIRspace Projects
3-19 July 2020
AIRspace Projects 10 Junction Street Marrickville NSW 2204
We tend to process and interpret experience in convoluted ways. Myth and fantasy spring from factual occurrences, stories are woven around events, our memories unintentionally dissolve fact. How can we ever rely on recall to be accurate? Ultimately all we have to work with, and learn from, are feelings, coloured by our recollection of experience.
The exhibition Equivalence is made up of three parts, small paintings, photographs, and large paintings, all of which stem from feelings around my late mother, who died in 2019.
I have a habit of collecting clothing. Old, ornate, sentimental or special in some way. I’ve always had a fascination with fabric. As a child Mum would cut up her old dresses to make mine, and I loved to see photographs of her wearing those old dresses – one of many matrilineal links between us. She used to tell me stories of her life in a small Queensland city during and after World War 2. The socialising, the balls she used to attend, the ball dresses she’d wear. She kept some of those dresses in a large bag in the store room under our house and a couple of times she let me play with them, admiring the prints, the full skirts and the sheer volume of all that fabric. One day they were thrown out. Apparently, a rat had made a nest in the bag so that was the end of that. But not to be put off, their memory lived on in my head regardless. My relationship with memory and clothing had well and truly been established.
Mum kept special pieces in an old Chinese carved camphor wood chest. Three of these garments are photographed for the exhibition. I photographed the clothing two years prior and liked the results although something felt wanting. I decided, after Mum’s death, to use a pinhole camera to do the job, and after some trial and error, found the resulting images entirely in keeping with the atmosphere I was trying to achieve. Sometimes you just can’t go past good old (expensive) analogue. The Shell photographs refer to enclosure, protection, a skin or a membrane, as much as social expectations.
The Equivalence paintings stem from these garments, and are emotional responses to the garments themselves, their fabrics, perceived meanings and associated family folklore.
The small Saltwater Poem paintings were made in 2008, in response to a place that Mum held close. All her life she’d talk about this – her happy place – that coloured so much of her life and her world view, and to some degree, my own. I‘ve never shown these works, and I chose to add textiles to the paintings as a way of exploring, not only the haptic sensations associated with that place, and the memories that drift there still, but also the emotional breadth of her life.