Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Eat the children / communicating by clay telegram


Like many, I woke up very early this morning wrestling with a problem.

In my case, I'm struggling with the details of an artwork I'm trying to create.

I have this idea of creating an artwork, that in it's consumption, becomes a bridge between the arts community here in Perth, Western Australia, the most remote city on a continent in the world, and those attending peak art event half way around the world.

But I have my own creative twist:

The artwork enables each members of the audience at the art event to be given the contact details for a corresponding creative person in Western Australian.  This is a multiples to multiples connection.

Over the last 25 years I have been mapping the Western Australian Artist community.  This is not just the names read regularly in the daily newspaper's art pages, but members of the wider local arts and crafts community.  Having given arts and crafts workshops with many members of this community and it's numerous small groups, I know many of them well. They have paid me to learn about and make art in a workshop or class, and so indirectly they funded my occupation as an artist, put food and drink on my table.

I wish to connect these people directly to approximately three thousand people who will be attending the opening of the exhibition I'm in, on the other side of the world.

As a committed "clayalotic" since childhood, it seems only natural to use the humble material of clay as the vehicle to make this communication happen.  So I propose to make individual ceramic porcelain vessels which will be used to make a huge sculpture.  At the exhibition opening night the sculpture will be progressively dismantled into these individual ceramic porcelain vessels, which will be filled with wine and given to each of the audience members to drink from, and keep.

The audience members will be free to keep these porcelain vessels, take them to other exhibition openings that night, to take them home, and perhaps to use them again elsewhere, or at the least to take it home as a keepsake of the evening.

There is a worm in this story:  Each individual ceramic porcelain vessel will have on it contact details for individual Western Australian artists or crafts people who have helped or supported me during the last 25 years.  They may be a professional or recreational artist, an art educator, or administrator.

This project then becomes both a mantra of thanks to the many who have helped me, but also an open invitation to create communication between individual people involved in the arts in two different places on earth.  A clay bridge.

I hope that at least who have taken home the thousands of individual ceramic porcelain vessels, will be tempted to use the details on their vessel, to contact the other person.  Even if it is to say "hi" I got this at an exhibition.  Perhaps to ask how their details got on the vessel?  Or do they make art?  Where do they live? and so on...

In these days of billions of flickering images, a small physical object may become the vehicle for building personal contact, through a share interest in looking at and making art.

The viewer considers about were the art came from, how it was made.  The Western Australian gets to hear about the art world, on the other side of the world.  Clay pen pals?

Even if only one or two of these connects leads on to an on going conversation and relationship, my work will have been done.

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