Q&A with Cementa 15 artists
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.
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