During all the Covid lockdowns, the art sector was hit really hard, something that I feel strange complaining about, knowing others had it so much worse than me – I have not wanted to whinge and whine, but just tried to make the best of it. I have never been happier to live in rural NSW Australia!
In reality though it did affect me quite considerably, mentally and physically, as well as financially – especially my art practice. Suddenly hosting creative workshops was just not possible. There goes one of my income streams!
Exhibitions that were lined up were cancelled or delayed and applications or submissions for other opportunities evaporated. Exhibitions that I had were so affected by lack of tourists and visitors, that it was barely worth the effort. Sayonara another income stream, as well as momentum with various artworks.
I tried to make the best of it by reading, listening to podcasts, music and Audible, researching ideas… and MAKING and creating. I am really quite a hermit, and happy to be at home pottering – using some of this time to work on new ideas was a no-brainer. I experimented with my breadtags by clipping, stringing, melting, tracing, cottage, printing, taking photos. I did collage, drawing, painting and mixed media. I sorted tags night after night, finding a kind of meditation in the ritual of classifying and sorting them by colour, size, type.
Then my regional arts organisation @ArtsOutWest, put out a call. They had used funding for the arts to create a CD by our regional musicians, called While The Word Waits. ArtsOut West then put out an EOI asked for artists to create a visual response to the music and experience of covid. Brilliant. I wanted do this. And so…
Nervously I edited and tweaked my Bio, created a slideshow of my work- a selected portfolio what I have been creating, and typed up the words to support my application. I knew getting a spot in this would be very competitive, because it was a tremendous opportunity. The exhibition would travel around regional NSW for 12 months, and be curated by the very talented , passionate, established esteemed artist Steven Cavanagh. I hit SEND and submitted .
And created a bit more. Waited some more.
The email came.
YAHOO!!!!! I was one of the successful artists! Happy dancing ensued. Then time to get serious.
After several visits to my studio by Steven ( which warrant blogposts all of their own, because typically in my life they were dramatic ) the work for the exhibition was selected, and included a work made of breadtags.
All that time, all that playing and experimenting, thinking, contemplating, reflecting actually came to be something materially obvious, called Colligō – A False Comfort.
You see, I grew up with a collection of blue and white plates, all styles, ages, patterns, lovingly and carefully displayed on our kitchen walls, looked at everyday as we prepared and ate food, ‘broke bread’ so to speak, and shared familial, comforting, domestic moments.
These vessels I made for the exhibition parody that blue and white, echoing the familiar and safety of these memories. But these vessels are made of mass produced single use plastics. Yep- breadtags.
These breadtags may seem like innocuous domestic mundane things, but they represent a waste of valuable natural resources, and a massively growing plastics pollution problem- and so are a palpable, obvious threat to the domestic harmony that most humans are actively seeking out. The practice of using single use plastics is unsustainable, and totally contrary to our long term comfort.
In this way I contribute a little bit to drawing attention to the mundane, and the problem that single use plastics have created for us.
The exhibition opened last week, in Bathurst, and after this begins its journey around regional NSW. I am so chuffed to be part of this, seen alongside other artists I so admire.
So while the world waited, what did I do? I created with breadtags. Of course!