Kimmel Harding Nelson Centre for the Arts

Three month residency, Nebraska City, Nebraska USA, 2007.

In this Arts Council funded residency in Nebraska, USA, I took the opportunity to respond to some archetypal motifs present in the North America’s Midwest. As a starting point, I used materials that already have significant cultural heritage and that could be sourced locally in order to explore and develop new work with the opportunity to acquire the accents of the place I was temporarily inhabiting.  The iconic object that is the brown paper bag, so ubiquitous and utilitarian, lent itself well to this exploration. The image which, through the medium of the cinema and television, become a familiar visual expression of the American cultural vernacular worldwide. It also became something that I, as a child and an avid film enthusiast, developed my own relationship with. One of infatuation and possibly even envy. The complexities of this particularly non-neutral object (despite the neutrality that is attempted in its design) became more obvious the more I engaged with its history, development and the many imputed meanings that have been constructed around it over time. I collected countless number of these brown paper bags from the local traders and marked them, obliterated their seeming neutrality. Some were whitewashed, destroyed and deconstructed. I used stitch, re-configuring the shape that is meant to contain, conceal or protect into a shape that represents the skin, the outer – that which can be appropriated, separated and utilised – something reminiscent of the cow hide. And then again these new cow hides became a material to make new brown paper bags from, signifying circularity with all its countless problems and possibilities.

Thread and wire, again locally sourced, were utilised to reflect the vast fields of dying, blackened stubs and roots of corn that surrounded the Arts Centre during the winter months.  Donated lolly-pop sticks became a personal reference to the new (and exciting) technology of USB memory sticks that were, at the time, only just becoming ubiquitous!

Witness

Witness

Graphite, wax, graphite powder, graphite paste, pastels, thread, ink & staples on collected and found brown paper bags.
50 x 30 x 20 cm (approx).
2007

Black Corn, Black Earth, Black Roots.

Black Corn, Black Earth, Black Roots.  Wire, thread, paint & balsa wood. 10 x 30 x 30 cm (approx), 2007

40 Memory Sticks

40 Memory Sticks (selection only)

Wire, thread, paint, ink, graphite, nails, tape, pins, foil, staples, marker pen & donated lolly sticks.
10 x 2 cm each.
2007​

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