The Academy was the first historic site I visited when I moved to the mountains 10 years ago. At the time it was a musky old place full of furniture with hardly any visitors. It is wonderful to see it come alive and to become a hub of creativity in the central mountains.
As each open day event unfolded I was blown away by the talent and diversity of the artists involved. It was wonderful to see how each artist responded to the site and the different audiences they engaged. The front cover of the book features the work of local photographer, Ona Jazen. Ona is extremely talented and I have been very fortunate to have her document my work on several occassions. The back cover features one of Michael Herron's paintings. Like Ona, Michael has won multiple awards for his work and is well represented in many collections.
As one of the participating artists, my installation Shelter forms one chapter in the book. It is a real pleasure to share the pages with so many accomplished artists whose work and practice I find so inspiring. So a big thank you to the Woodford Academy Management Committee for supporting local artists and for all the volunteers at the Academy who help make the open days such a success.
The Woodford Academy is a National Trust property in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. The book features artworks exhibited at the Woodford Academy as part of the 2014/15 open days program. Participating artists: Sarah Breen Lovett, Monica Brooks, Clare Cooper, Ben Denham, Michael Herron, WeiZen Ho, Ona Janzen, Honi Ryan, Alan Schacher, Jacqueline Spedding, Talulah Vane.
Art at the Academy: A year of exhibitions at the Woodford Academy is available through the National Trust online shop and at the Woodford Academy.
NORTH - WEST opens this Wednesday night at NORTH Contemporary Art Space in North Sydney. I have a small work going in the show - Bed of Sorrows - finished while I've been confined to the house with shingles (a bed or sorrows in an of itself!!). I made the ceramic buttons earlier in the year and had the muslin/hydrangea mattress sewn already, as well as the old rusty rack and It just came together. After I thought of the title I searched online to see what would appear and came across this. Given my love of abandoned spaces and sorrowful things, it all seemed rather appropriate!:
The legend states that the Bed of Sorrow was used by a poor soul long since departed who would weep day and night into the sheets, unable to be consoled as they withered away in that bed—never leaving, not even to eat, drink, or relieve themselves. In time the inevitable occurred and the tragic figure died, still weeping—although they were removed from the bed and given a burial, the bed itself would begin to exhibit unnatural properties such as the once white sheets turning a shade of red. A feeling of continual dread surrounded the bed and thus, if the story is to be believed, it was destroyed in an effort to end what many believed was a curse left behind by a restless spirit. As with such stories however, the bed is said to somehow materialize even to this day, and those who seek it out are said to find any abandoned house and search for a single room with a red door that appears locked.
Our second iteration of Shadow Weave has recently closed at WEST Project Space. It was great to bring elements of the work from our Dubbo show together in such a tiny space and truly let them weave together. The mismatched arrangement of the drawers piled on top of each other was interesting to experiment with and unsurprisingly changed how the work 'read' minus the cabinet.
Well it was a long week out at Dubbo installing my two works as part of a group show, Shadow Weave, with three other Blue Mountains artists and I have to say that this was one of the most enjoyable installs I've been involved with.
For this exhibition I've made two new works - Hope Chest and In the Shadow of a Dream. Both use found objects (drawers and an old haberdashery cabinet), along with natural materials, digital projection and ceramic objects. Both build on ideas explored in earlier works concerned with archiving and the process of memory.
For Hope Chest I worked with Georgina Donovan to build the cabinet for a set of mismatched drawers I found on the side of the road during the year. The structure was originally imagined as a simple white gallery wall but when it was complete I was confronted with an important element of the work - something I wasn't entirely expecting though why that would be I'm not sure! Seeing the texture of the wood sparked a whole range of ideas and I'm pleased with how it came together. One of the most enjoyable aspects of making for me is allowing the space for things to emerge as you work rather than realising a fixed idea.
The other challenge with this work was realising an idea I have had for a long time of a short video of moths fluttering around a light projected inside one of the drawers that would pause when viewers approached or opened the drawer and restart when they moved away. During installation I was struck by how well the projection worked on the underside of the top protruding drawer and so the last piece fell into place. A video of a moth fluttering around a light in slow motion, is projected onto the cabinet. Some drawers don't open at all, others are jammed - the contents are open for exploration and I do hope the audience enjoys interacting with this work.
The exhibition looks great and we are all grateful to the curators, Kent Buchanan and Caroline Edwards for their support and encouragement. The Western Plains Cultural Centre is a fantastic and dynamic space - well worth visiting. My fellow shadow-weavers are: Sarah Breen Lovett, Ona Janzen and Kayo Yokoyama.
Last Saturday was the opening of my installation 'Shelter' at the Woodford Academy. It was a quiet afternoon with bushfires worrying locals, a council bielection and our annual mid-mountains festival but there was a nice gathering for my talk and lots of positive feedback from visitors.
I have to say I think this is the exhibition I have enjoyed the most this year and I feel really lucky to have been given the opportunity to work in this haunting old building.
The exhibition will move and change over the next two open days in January. Next room will be....well, you'll just have to come and see!
On Wednesday I begin installing my work for the Woodford Academy exhibition 'Shelter' as part of their Open Days program for 2014/15. I will be doing an artist talk on the 15 November from 2-3pm. All welcome. Details on my 'Upcoming Exhibitions' page here.
The Woodford Academy is a National Trust property on the Great Western Highway at Woodford in the Blue Mountains. It is an intriguing property, purportedly home to ghosts, that has been variously a private dwelling, a school and an inn.
For this installation I am working with cicada shells, natural and found materials and ceramic objects to create a work that ruminates on the history of habitation of the building and the environment in sits within. Over three open days in Nov and January the work will grow and change, moving throughout the house and inviting a continued conversation about change and transformation both human and non-human.
I've really enjoyed making elements for this installation and I'm looking forward to seeing how it will all come together once I am in the space. Here's a sneak peak at some of the ceramic pieces I've made for the sewing room, the first location in the house for this exhibition. They are in the kiln now for a second firing so they won't be white but hopefully quite bone-like.
‘Shadow Weave’ - A group exhibition by Sarah Breen Lovett, Ona Janzen, Jacqueline Spedding and Kayo Yokoyama
Regional Art Space,
Western Plains Cultural Centre, Dubbo
Opens 6 Dec 2014, 2-4pm
Runs until 1 Feb 2015
Shadow Weave will draw forth dimensions of the shadow specific to each of our practices crossing the fields of photography, multimedia, glass, ceramics and sculpture.