Cultural Product

Cultural Product
Serving Suggestion

Thursday, June 16, 2005


Tank 2005
Every time I've visited the Art Gallery of NSW in the last ten years, I go to the Asian art section and gaze at the Scholar's table. I copied elements of it years ago, and once again thought it was necessary to simulate the objects, using plastics that I carved and altered and found objects. The tank idea came about as a result of reading of the Gallery's early days where the roof would leak so much that water would run down the walls. The staff would have to remove the paintings to save them! As the desk is situated in a giant floor to ceiling vitrine, I thought it would be nice to immerse the pieces in water. As the pieces were all plastics, balsa wood and Styrofoam, they floated and so they needed to be weighed down, we used lead and old lady's gloves filled with sand. What you see here is early the piece aged the rust started really coming on strong and the piece aged beautifully. The MCA worked hard to stop the rust* but the combination of materials and especially the lead we used to weigh everything down was TOXIC as hell.
This piece was hyper laden with problems and difficulties, and was a nightmare to install. It nearly destroyed my relationship with PJ who worked tirelessly helping me, and I believe it assisted in my allergic reaction to coffee! You see, when I was changing the water, by hand I was soaking in the poison water. After breaking the table a bit, and being shattered that I was so stupid not to have tested everything in advance (learning curve), I was at my 'wit's end'. I am a cuticle chewer when I am nervous and I stressed so much that day with the piece that I chewed myself ragged, whilst abusing strong long black coffees. The next day I was chemically changed, and ill. I have never had a real coffee since.**
I just remember it was fraught with trials and mega problems to solve, every step of the way. However, I was really glad to have realised the piece. No-one needs to know what a hellish struggle art stuff can be. But it is sometimes. I feel consumed by the need to get it right. It wasn't 100%, but it was worth it. I felt proud.
*I did not want to alter the piece. I accept that the work is changed by time, but the MCA insisted I repair the water situation...I do not agree. More work for me!
**Do you need to know that?

Pictured; the wonderful Michelle Hanlin and Robert Pulie I believe.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Rust = Age


What is this? A simulated display of a Shop. In the Gallery. Only silly, dare I say subversive? I didn't even know I was making it, until I did...another case of synchronicity, where I found the shelving and it exactly matched the shelving in the MCA shop at that time. I have always had a special fetishised attraction to all Museum shops, their haughty standards, they are so aquisitional, and the MCA store was no different. The arrangements and curious oddities remind me of Wunderkammers, but it is all about commerce. It's essentially a market for expensive designer items. And so, what is art? I have questions. There were a number of nice smelling things, as well as fresh fruit and vegetables.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Consumer Distributor

Shop 2005
Installation view
potato, television set ON ,hot glue, plastics, mung beans, glass, water, tomatoes, found pictures, paint, inks, bananas, metal, wood, wax, pencil, lights, lenses, cumin seeds, orange, paper, cardboard, fimo
I have a German carry bag with the words "Consumers distributing" on it. I love that concept!
Many of the objects in Shop are found and converted, and have to do with the art world. Small dioramas set the scene, and arrangements were constantly meddled with. I would come in over the course of the show and eat the blackened bananas (in this case I wanted the bright yellow of the fresh banana to be intact), and re-install components that had been moved.
I really like that curious people touch works and have a fiddle, it is part of the reality of showing to the public. But I have to restore order!

Monday, June 6, 2005


I have been collected used thick plastic bags for years and years. They are so durable, and perform this function of carrying your purchases home, and then being discarded. When new, they seem like a fashion accessory, people with armfuls of them in the city. All crinkling and shining. I saw one from an expensive designer that was so stylised, ornate and decorative, I wondered if the contents could be as ostentatious as the outer packaging. Possibly, as these days 'gaudy' has achieved a whole new status of being coveted. I really wanted that bag! Sometimes I want to ask people on the train to do a swap, as the colours of their bags are so extreme, and are not represented in my rainbow (above). No more swags bundled up in a bandana for us!
I have collected through different friends and family, all women: Kate Sowerby, Raquel Ormella, Olga Jakubovsky, Anne Kay, Josie Cavallaro, Lisa Kelly, Jane Goffman, Ngaire Worboys, Beth Eldridge, Shobhna Kumar and Sophie O'Brien to name a few. For this show, I got the MCA to collect for me. They also bought the lights, which I wanted to enhance the transparent qualities.
Refuse 2005
I like the dual possibilities of this title, it implies what is thrown away, and also is contentious in this time of re-cycling, as we are asked to refuse shopping bags.
I removed the logos and had them hung upside down on the bamboo sticks, coming out of the wall like banners, but the original idea was from a picture of washing lines in the past, hanging out of windows given to me by Lisa Kelly. I liked removing the logos. It was quite therapeutic, just cutting through plastic is satisfying, and erasing the designer's graphic imprint was exciting. Leaving traces of their handiwork, for sure, but eradicating their grip on the proposal to advertise felt deviant. What about copyright? Leaving these traces also has the effect of creating an architectural plan. What better urban development thing, as this is what houses our ever-increasing demands.
I do not shop very much. I haven't got the money! I don't work enough, and never work full time and haven't the desire for money that entails getting it together visavis making it. But I want to consume! As a teenager I did a lot of shoplifting. As a forty year old I still want new things, yet am satisfied with what I have. I see people in malls crowded day in and out, seemingly purchasing rigorously. Maybe they have all just lost their stuff in a fire, how do I know? I can't assume that everyone in the mall is there regularly, except the staff...some people do shop as a hobby, and as therapy. I guess in the past we would gather. I would rather be gathering firewood quite frankly, as long as I had enough to keep me warm and comfy clothing wise.
I do like a change. I change my hair colour often. I read different books. I travel to new places. I meet new people and try new things. Do I have to be involved in this shopping spree? I am involved! Some of my family are shop-a-holics. They have more than one of everything, and are always buying new things, to make their lives easier, and their houses nicer. Good on 'em, I get their throw-outs! As a matter of fact I probably wouldn't collect nearly as much as I do if it weren't for people re-furbishing and renovating. I happen to like the used and pre-loved (then chucked!) pieces. They speak of character and the past. Hell, one could build a house on what is thrown out in my suburb each week. Our waste is astronomical. I can just do what I can.
This piece will be ongoing, I envision a warehouse of the world's shopping bags, hung like the bloody United Nations!

Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Fear Not

A shrine to all women 2005, based on the piece by James Hampton, The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millennium General Assembly. Hampton had spent his lifetime as a janitor, but when he died, they found he had created a wondrous installation of artifacts, wrapped in tin foil. It is the most remarkable endeavour, absolutely fantastic, and he died without being recognised. This show, curated by DJ Robert Lake called Seven Beauties entails seven hard working artist women who play together and have social ties in and out of the art world. He curated it based on this.
I collected objects from all the women in the show; Lisa Andrew, Mishka Borowski, Sadie Chandler, Maria Cruz, Elizabeth Day, Elizabeth Pulie and wrapped these, as well as domestic objects and ephemera, to create a dazzling montage. I am in love with chocolate, and the wrapping really reflected that, but I also remember when I was young, my father (single after my mother's death) was a swinging bachelor, and he wallpapered his bedroom with aluminium foil. Installing these objects into this shrine formation on an upturned tabletop filled with water added to the reflective qualities, and also happened to host a colony of mosquito larvae for the duration of the show! I had been looking at the Taj Mahal, and was mightily impressed.Fear Not was borrowed from Hampton as well. It seemed a fitting epithet for a group of women all singularly trying to make it in the art world.

Monday, April 4, 2005


The colour red is much espoused upon. Personally I have always loved it. I chose red paint for my room at one stage, and was designated red as a child, while my sister got dark blue. I love all bright colours but red has a particular hold on me. It is symbolic and loaded with significance, and is so easy to spot! It glows with it's own warmth, and is considered a primary colour. In my darkroom days, red was the first colour I worked with.

By collecting together red objects and fashioning a red installation I was thinking of Louise Nevelson, and also the synchronicity of my finds. As soon as I started looking out for objects of that colour, they came to me. I would walk to the Gallery and find a red book, or scarf. I went to someone's house and they'd give me a red thing. It all worked together. I painted on a bucket little electrical pylons, but otherwise just removed any colour that wasn't right.

As I sit here typing I look at my red glass water cup. The light travels through it and I am entranced. When I'm in a car, behind the brake lights of other cars, I am delighted. The red traffic lights, STOP, glow so readily. I loved Emil Goh's following red video piece. I would like to gather together all red cars, but found Nina Katchedorian already did it! I went to a butterfly farm wearing red and the butterflies were so all over me. And once, when I was going to post a letter, I nearly mistook a woman wearing pillar box red with a post box! When I go bush, I love wearing red. It's the opposite to green! My therapist likes talking about why I love red. Recently, my sister made a video of our old home movies and gave me a copy. I had never seen the footage and in it, my deceased little sister was running around the garden all in red. Perhaps I am honouring her memory. Perhaps when we are in the womb, it is all red around us, and the redness that glows is so primal. One day I want to have a red party and invite all the red enthusiasts for a red blast.

Sunday, April 3, 2005

I love

Shrine to all women 2005

I love laying objects out. I love collecting, arranging/assembling like and opposites. I could do this endlessly. The gallery exists as a home away from home.

Saturday, January 1, 2005

Elastic archive show

At Cross Art

Elastic Projects was invited to put together a show for Cross Art, run by Jo Holder. Elvis Richardson, Lisa Andrew, Anne Kay and I curated this show of works made in the context of archives.

I curated a video programme, and wrote a booklet. I also invited people to my home for tea.
Installation view by Regina Walters
pictured; Liz Day, Liz Pulie, Elvis Richardson
The Gallery as Archive 2005

I identify with collecting for a number of reasons, but mainly because I admire other people’s collections. As a child, my family moved countries a number of times, and with each move, more things would get lost or broken. The notion of hanging on to something for a good long time was unknown. Even the most valuable things can disappear. When I returned to Australia, nearly 20 years ago, I only had two suitcases with me. It’d been my policy to be able to move myself, requiring only a taxi. Since then I have been able to stay put and bring home as much as I can find, within reason. My partner PJ and I trawl the streets for throwaways, collecting what others don’t want. Neither of us can believe what good things people put out on household rubbish collection days.

Collecting and Ownership
I remember being awestruck by giant mountains when I was young, and felt more than a sense of wonder. I felt a desire to own those mammoth things, to contain them, and somehow have access to that majestic beauty forever. Short of climbing them and living there, I felt some satisfaction by doing a drawing, and then I felt like it was in my heart, or at least in my sketchbook. My home and studio space are my archive, and are constantly in use and being improved upon.

For the Elastic archive show I wanted to assemble a collection of video works that dealt with collecting. I liked the idea of using the minute storage facility of the DVD to serve as such a fantastic recording device, holding potentially loads of information. This contrasts so heavily with my work, and my home, which serves as my archive.
The Gallery as Archive show initiates my quest for video works that deal with collecting in some way. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of an archive of video works that attempt to catalogue the notion.

The pre-occupation with gathering together, archiving, storing and collecting seems inevitable. Relatively little from the distant past remains, so we seem to be on a mission to preserve remnants, souvenir our culture, to the death! Who decides what is kept, and what is thrown away? Bart Simpson nearly killed for a comic book. A giant air controlled hangar filled with Sydney 2000 Olympic records exists! I’d prefer to see a museum filled with snapshots taken at Olympic events, by visitors, actually. E-bay acts as the largest catalogue collection in the world. Sci-fi writer William Gibson observed this obsession with thrift-shop hunting and picking may be a sign of “some desperate instinctive re-configuring of the post-industrial flow, some basic mammalian response to the bewildering flood of sheer stuff we produce”.

Regina Walter’s video ‘IN’ is a collection of images of women taking a puff from a cigarette. The camera acts casually, outside a plaza and often there’s an embarrassingly candid gaze of the smoker, as you’re watching them inhale. Magnifying through repetition. The simplicity of gathering together groups of sames appeals to me psychologically seeking order in chaos, but also because it makes you look at those moments with a different concentration. After analysing something, you are much more involved with it. In ‘Smithfield’, the idea extends to asking passer-byes to say “Smithfield”. The random choice of people, and their genuine personalities, as well as their enthusiastic, almost ritualistic boredom makes me feel glad. I see some reflection of myself in those residents, and their quintessentially Australian dynamic is apparent.

Kutlug Ataman’s Küba, shown this year at the Argyle Centre served as an amazing installation of Istanbul resident’s stories. I loved seeing the work, for it’s obsession with tragic stories, fringe residents (they looked like my kind of people), and also it’s physicality. The collection of well-worn Salvation Army armchairs, old televisions, and TV tables had to be experienced, to be believed. The warmth and cosines of those very domestic objects, all varied, making a giant living room out of the old wooden wool store building, and eerily one chair per monitor, all facing South-East (?).

Liz Day’s work The Origin of Ideas is an ongoing inquiry into these places where thought processes meander. An interdisciplinary archive of notebooks showing the intimate working processes of people working across arts and sciences. She records random sequences of sketchbook pages, and as you watch, the sense of following each artist’s neural pathways is evident and delightful. The translation of paper through to video is quiet and fluid. The assemblage of people’s works, and just a taste of a few of their books have a sensibility that achieves so much through passive contemplation. I felt the seminal act of creation was evoked, and made the ordinary quite beautiful. Private jottings and notes are scanned as quickly as a complex drawing or configuration. I watched my own with trepidation, but feel honored to be included. She has been working with other people’s notebooks since 1997 and has a further work planned for later this year, in Tasmania.

Che Guevara’s image lives on in Raquel Ormella’s zines Che 2005. This document of his ever-increasing popularity demonstrates a fortitude, commitment and readiness to record each and every image of Che that came her way over 10 years. The revolution seems to have only begun and his face is everywhere! I think she even culled her collection to keep the costs of printing down. If only Gandhi was as photogenic… The pre-occupation with the subject seems devotedly fan-like, as that’s what is required for a collector. Time is of the essence when you’re collecting. You can go to e-bay and purchase a ready-made collection, but marking time through you pursuit historicises a life’s journey.

When I invited Luke to do something for the show, he wanted to display some aspect of his collection. Mark wearing my t-shirt collection 2005 reminds me of Brigid Berlin’s substantial pile of identical Lacoste© t-shirts from the Pie in the Sky documentary. It didn’t matter how ragged they were, they had done their time and it was integral they were there. Luke’s photographs document a devotion to interesting t-shirts, handsomely modeled by Mark. I admire obsession. It is the commitment that keeps the collection alive. The devotion over time seems somewhat religious to me, I know how enthralled I am, when I find a thing that compliments my collection. Once I have a number of similar items, and they really start mounting up to something, I pore over them with pleasure. Accumulating a substantial collection can make a person famous; someone I knew, knew someone who sold their ABBA scrapbooks to The Powerhouse Museum for $10,000. I wonder if anyone will ever want my collection of tobacco-related paraphernalia!

A couple of years ago I was given some watercolours and I embarked on a series of paintings of packaging I’d amassed. I filled a book with quaint paintings, in the hope that I wouldn’t have to keep all the empty packages forever, that the painting would serve as a record, and that was enough. Unfortunately, when I looked at the paintings on their own, they weren’t as interesting as when they had the object next to them. At art school, studying painting, I was confounded by the length of time it took to paint something reasonable. I moved into photography, where capturing things on film takes a millisecond, but stills weren’t enough.
[2] I went back to the objects themselves.
So, for my own work, I would like to invite visitors to my home, open by arrangement in November.
‘In perpetuity’ seems impossible as I consider our population, era, environment, and history.

[1] William Gibson, “My Obsession”, Wired, January 1999, 102
[2] The removal of the object through photography, and the distance created between the viewer and that original object seems distorted to me. The interruption, or lie of the lens is an easily manipulated tool. How to display photographic works dictates their interpretation. It can be an expensive medium.