Tank 2005Every 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 days...as 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.