This week, this work would have travelled to Wagga Wagga and formed part of the exhibition Listening in the Anthropocene. The exhibition has been postponed due to Covid-19.
It feels strangely okay, even comforting, to be staying home at this time. Meeting those who have been working on these ideas (and this symposium) will hopefully be somewhere in my future, and I quietly look forward to it. For now, I mark the occasion with this post. The photograph featured was taken just before the rains came across NSW, in Brewarrina on the land of the Ngemba, Ualarai, Murrawarri and Wailwan people. Borrowing its title 'Your one wild and precious life' from Mary Oliver's poem, The Summer Day, this work asks us to consider the preciousness of all life. It pays tribute to the non-human lives lost as a result of human behaviour and our often reckless desire for progress.
During the year of my birth, not far from where I was born, a famous gardener mapped a new terrain. The garden he designed meticulously copied another garden from a land far away, which in turn replicated the landforms of a country, albeit in miniature. This Japanese Garden still exists, some forty years later, in the Central West town of Cowra. The two aspects feel worlds apart; one is dry and scrubby, the other manicured and green. If you visit the garden in early spring, you'll enter the town by travelling through canola crops. Yellow flowers carpet the hills, creating iridescent fields of genetically modified gold. These plants are relative newcomers to the region, and the experience is visually intoxicating and strangely unsettling.
Like the plants manicured for strolling gardens or modified for rural landscapes, the Mad Honey garden has grown from other places. The radiant clusters replicate a garden I discovered while using google earth to travel through Japan. Exclusively planted from azaleas and rhododendrons, each carefully clipped plant in this garden took the shape of a giant neon boulder. The result is otherworldly, and when I googled these plants, I discovered that some are toxic, containing grayanotoxin; and the honey that bees make from this nectar is called Mad Honey. It's rarely lethal in humans but can cause hallucinations. This hidden toxicity aligned with the visual intoxication I experienced on my virtual travel. I was tripping.
Now handcrafted entirely out of the nylon knitting ribbon and synthetic wools, this crop of psychotropic botanicals enchants, while also provoking a deep ambivalent unease. Pulsing quietly in Deep Space, the Mad Honey garden provides a space to reflect on the mind-altering power of plants, and in turn, the ways human beings alter the natural world through travel and science.
This project was assisted by a grant from Create NSW, an agency of the New South Wales Government and supported by the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian State and Territory Governments. The program is administered by the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA).
Cementa19 is four days and nights of performance, sound, cabaret, interactive and electronic arts, video, installation and ceramics installed across the post-industrial town of Kandos, NSW. Over 60 artists will make, exhibit and perform work relating to the social, historical, or environmental context of the town and the region around it. Cementa19 is a celebration of contemporary art in Australia and of the small town that hosts it.
Find your copy of the festival program here
Check out the 2019 Artist list here.
My grandma showed me how to make my first pom pom. We cut two doughnut-shaped templates out of cardboard and spent hours carefully threading the wool through the hole. Cutting the pom pom open revealed our time together, in soft coloured layers.
Pom poms are made with our hands. This gentle winding of materials can slow down time; place you in the room with those you love. Your body learns the movements, and the repetition reminds you that you are here, in this moment.
I started making pom poms again when my partner first got sick. I wasn’t prepared for the medical world with its sharp, intrusive edges. This childhood craft became our soft armour. After Steve died, time changed. Days felt endless but were gone in moments. Making pom poms became a way of tracking time.
Grief taught me that my body is mostly liquid. Sadness leaves in waves. Tears. During the early days, a package arrived from my four-year-old niece. It was a single tissue. She had sat quietly at her family’s kitchen table, carefully picking out the embossed pattern with a pink texta. Soft Symmetry takes this now visible profile and renders it in pom poms. A large-scale tracing of love and loss.
a line around that we cannot see I Yvette Hamilton, Heidi Lefebvre, Karen Golland I Airspace I 2018
My Nan cut stuff out of the newspaper. She clipped out things that caught her fancy using a pair of gold-handled scissors shaped like a bird, a Kiwi I think. Nan mostly cut out the whole article, although sometimes she just cut out the image. Nan rarely just cut out the words. I never asked Nan about these clippings. Precise newspaper cutting was just something Nan did. In the last decade of her life Nan cut the paper up in rhythm to the alzheimers that slowly changed her brain. Snip. Cut. Remember. Forget. The clippings from this time present a strange and intimate record of her daily life. After Nan died no one knew what to do with the set of chocolate boxes she had methodically refilled with print. I stepped in when I feared they were to be recycled. The clippings moved with me from house to house. I read them. I packed them back up. I reread them. I packed them back up. I photographed them. I counted them. I ordered them. I mixed them up. I tried to make sense of them. I failed. I lost Nan’s plot.
A small set of Nan’s clippings feature in my upcoming solo exhibition Spells for Lost Things. The exhibition draws on three collections of objects that passed through the hands of three different women, before finding their way to me.
The exhibition opens at Western Plains Cultural Centre on Saturday 21 April 2018 at 2pm. Find further details here - https://www.facebook.com/events/363396024144379/
Softly Wired is a series of new works by Bathurst artist Karen Golland. The work features four pastel handkerchiefs threaded with wire using rows of running stitches that give the old cotton fabric new form. Dash. Space. Dash. The hankies now appear frozen in time. Each sits on its own circular mirror on the floor, making it seem larger than life.
These handkerchiefs have escaped from a much larger collection passed down through Karen’s family for generations, gathering carefully ironed contributions as it went. The collected outgrew one chocolate box only to fill another and another. By the time Karen inherited the collection there were two hundred and twenty handkerchiefs.
Handkerchiefs have a past. They might have been used for waving, remembering, signalling, gifting, sneezing, protecting, mending, embellishing, nursing, messaging, crying, dabbing, collecting. When they were dropped in childhood games you had to run as fast as you could or you’d lose your place. Sometimes they were the secret language of lovers.
Softly Wired forms part of larger body of work that uses inherited collections to explore the role objects play in conjuring personal narratives and histories. The works draw on the intimate pleasure found in collecting precious and mundane things and details how the meaning of these collections slips and changes when we die. These works deliberately embellish the past, reflecting the complexities inherent in remembering those who have died.
Come and draw, paint or just relax in the company of others at Machattie Park… every 3rd Sunday of the month. There’ll be at least one demonstration and informal instruction will be available. All welcome! All art forms welcome!
We meet at the Rotunda and disperse from there.
Children under 15yo need to be accompanied by an adult. BYO pencils | paper | art materials | hat | water | sunblock | stool (Limited (free) paper, pencils, boards available to use)
*Bring a picnic lunch beforehand from 1pm...
Look forward to seeing you there!
Rachel Ellis: 0428 311 534
One Single Wish follows on from my recent work on death and grieving. It’s a site-specific installation composed of hundreds of handcrafted pom poms. These pom poms were crafted in response to my partner’s illness and death. The bright colours and silliness of these quickly wound creations stood in stark contrast to the measured clinical world that surrounded us. After my partner died, communal crafting became a way for me to connect with other people’s experience of grief. I became interested in the ways loss can be externalised and how this act can be used to disrupt the silence that shrouds taboo topics like death and dying. At the centre of my art practice is an intense curiosity in how making can be used to process traumatic events, particularly in those instances when we don’t have the words to wrap around the experience.
Meeting 'The Cupcakes' at the opening of Artlands was an absolute hightlight of the festival. You can check out more of their household tips for a happier world here www.roundabout.net.au
‘The Cupcakes’ by Roundabout Theatre www.roundabout.net.au
‘The Cupcakes’ by Roundabout Theatre www.roundabout.net.au
Future/Public is an exhibition of propositional public artworks in parklands central to the various venues for in the ARTLANDS precinct. Instead of producing finished and lasting artworks for public spaces, Future/Public will use public space as a platform for questioning the role of art in public. The exhibition will consist of 10 installations that ‘propose’ potentials for artworks that stands outside of our received expectation and understanding of public art. In this way, it will challenge the genre’s traditional and suggest new roles, ideas, and modes for art that inhabits the shared space of the public sphere.
Artists: Mark Booth (Hill End), Sarah McEwan (Birrego), Julie Montgarrett (Wagga), April Phillips (Coffs Harbour), Amelia Reid (Murwillumbah) Genevieve Carroll (Hill End), Karen Golland (Bathurst), Dani Marti (Cessnock) Christine McMillan (Kandos) and Rochelle Summerfield (Grafton).
This interactive installation developed by artist Karen Golland invites you to explore, create and collaborate through the work of the late Bathurst artist Steve Kirby. A continuation of Kirby’s Choice and Chance project, first conceived in 2006, a mosaic of the artist’s paintings will line the Gallery’s walls in a constantly evolving and dissolving re-imagining of his work and the interplay between choice and chance.
This is for you: Documentation and development
This is for you opened at Bathurst Regional Art Gallery on Friday 13 May 2016.
Link to Western Advocate Article
Link to full article: Gina Farley
Loss carries across several of the artworks. Karen Golland's field of pom-poms The Nature of Things, is a response to the grief of her partner dying. Viewed from the road or stumbled across in a paddock, it is indicative of the subtlety and sensitivity of many of the works at Cementa15.
Link to full article: Posted 27 April 2015: The ARI Experience: http://the-ari-experience.com/2015/04/27/cementa15-kandos/
On a grassy piece of land known as the “paddock shoulder” I found Karen Golland’s work, The Nature of Things. Karen had placed hundreds, possibly thousands of small, intensely coloured pom poms in arcs of colour on the small rising hill in the vacant lot. The rows of pom poms created an effect of individuals amonst the many. Each pom pom evoked both ‘someone’ and the absence of ‘someone’. In the bright morning light the intense colour field looked, quite simply, beautiful. Karen had begun making these pom poms as her partner was dying and she invited those close, family and friends, into the process of making the pom poms thus sharing their grief through this act of creation. The final work was inspired by a painting made by her partner. “Things come and go; it is in their nature.”
GINA FAIRLEY: SUNDAY 12 APRIL, 2015
Twenty good reasons to put Cementa on your radar - a festival that happens every two years in regional NSW.
Cementa15 returned to Kandos, a small regional town in NSW, this weekend with performance, installation and interventions. ArtsHub headed out to the country to bring Cementa15 to you.
For more on Cementa15 and an interview with one of its co-founders Alex Wisser.
Bathurst artist Karen Golland has been selected to take part in the biennial contemporary art festival Cementa15. The festival will take place in the regional township of Kandos from 9 to 12 April 2015 and will feature work from more than sixty artists.
“I’m thrilled to be part of Cementa15. It’s a wonderful event for regional NSW and with Kandos being so close to Bathurst it’s particularly exciting for our local community,” said artist Karen Golland. “Bathurst is home to a great number of people who are interested in contemporary art and think nothing of travelling four or five hours to visit art events or exhibitions. With Kandos being just over an hours drive away people can plan a day trip and bring their families and friends along on a regional art adventure.”
Cementa_15 brings together urban and regional artists for a four-day celebration of contemporary art in Australia. Taking its regional situation as focus, Cementa_15 celebrates the diversity of voices that can be heard within our contemporary arts communities. The program will include video, installation, performance, sound, 2d and 3d artworks in venues and locations across the town.
“We showcase contemporary art across the spectrum of practice, from the emerging to the established, from the obscure to the prominent,” said festival curator Alex Wisser. “We’ve got strong regional representation in this year’s festival and are excited to have new work by Bathurst artist Karen Golland included in the lineup.”
The Cementa_15 program also includes work by Hill End artists Genevieve Carroll and Bill Mosely, and Molong artist Heidi Lefebvre. Over the four-day festival visitors will have the opportunity to attend public programs including workshops for children, performances and forums. To find out more and view Cementa_15 artist profiles visit www.cementa.com.au
For more information contact Cementa_15’s media contact Sam Paine on 0431 208 646.
Read the full article here: https://visualarts.net.au/news-opinion/2015/q-cementa15-artists/
March 12 2015, by Julie Lien
From 9 to 12 April, 2015, over 60 contemporary artists from both Sydney and regional NSW will participate in Cementa15, an arts festival that celebrates the state of contemporary art in Australia and the community of artists that generate this strange, challenging, and wonderful way of looking and thinking about the world. NAVA spoke to some of those artists about the strategies and challenges experienced when producing their work.
What role does skill play in the value or meaning of your work?
Skill is a strange thing. Honed and perfect in one moment, clumsy and unattainable the next. I trained as a printmaker so for many years skill meant practiced precision. These days skill plays a different role in my art making. My focus isn't always on the polish; I'm much more curious about what's been collected along the way. The skills that bring the most value to my practice are flexible, and support encounters with different ways of making. They are adaptable and intuitive, and occasional fumbling is part of their nature.
My work for Cementa 15 has involved making pom poms with many people from my daily life. We've all learnt this one simple skill and then used it on repeat, making many hundreds of the same thing together. Creating work like this in my own home, with those who form an important part of my everyday has required its own set of skills. This way of working is lively and sometimes unpredictable, and I was very aware of wanting those involved to enjoy the process and feel they could contribute as much or little to the development as they wished.
I've found I'm a much kinder when working with those I love. I tend to be quite critical of what I make when working alone and like that I'm more attentive to the simple pleasure of making when working with others. I'm quietly hoping these skills are transferrable. Having been through a long period of making very little I found this shared creating and the skills it generated quickly sparked many new directions for my art making. So many hands working in close proximity seems to generate ideas and skill sharing, and this in turn has intensified the meaning and value of my work
What strategies do you employ when presented with projects that you don't have the skills to complete?
There are hidden pockets of skill all about the place. The challenge is matching up need with knowledge, so that you can dip in at the moment you're floundering about. Over the years I've had to pull my brave socks up and ask for help. There are a whole bunch of skills I don't have, but that I need to get stuff done. And I guess it's not just about finding and asking. It's also about filling your pockets up so that you can be part of the exchange.
And then there's google. That's a definite strategy.
What challenges have you faced in conceiving or producing your work for Cementa15 and how did you resolve them?
My work for Cementa 15 grew quickly and finding materials to support this growth has been an ongoing challenge. I initially planned to work with only one material, nylon knitting ribbon. My art making often begins with craft materials that have failed to transform into intention and early on I enthusiastically declared that each and every roll would be sourced second hand from local op shops or garage sales… A few months in it became clear that I would have to source another material. The answer came to my door in the shape of a mattress. Having not purchased many new things I was surprised to find this one arrive in it's own enormous plastic bag. Being uncertain what to do with such a large amount of plastic, I sliced it up into ribbon sized threads and began making pom poms. It's a much more difficult material to work with than tule, and quickly multiplied making time… but with one simple phone call I had more than enough to make more than enough.