M Arts Residency 2020

The Long Gallery

The first week of the project focused on the actual process of making work that responds to the space, including the varying light and reflections on the timber floor at different times of the day. Drawing upon works created earlier this year when residing in Studio 14b in the M Arts Precinct – I made a series of mixed media collages as a first step. These were laid out on the gallery floor as a form of visual narrative.  

I am exploring the range of architectural and industrial details of the Long Gallery, the Precinct and the surrounding streets. As I deconstruct images, reoccurring symbols and patterns start to emerge based on balcony railings, stairwells, and ceramic tile colours that are well recognised in the local art deco heritage conversation. These are also layered among images of European architecture and sculpture that has been an ongoing theme in my practice. 

Typically, I work through some loose mixed media pieces that allow me to flesh out key spatial and colour relationships that will be ultimately explored in the photographic projections. 

As a result of the residency in the Long Gallery space, I aim to convey the “circular” process of working though mixed media, oil painting and photography within the final body of work.

Week 2

Week 2 sees me focusing on layers of symbols and materials in the mixed media works, as well as thinking about the curatorial aspects of the upcoming exhibition. My paintings on boards are relatively small (30 cm square) but work in groups of 4-6 , building links between each image to form a greater whole.

Architectural details are starting to become clearer. In fact, certain colour patterns that feature in buildings in the main street of town are becoming an obvious motif.  I am also aware of how the light that comes through the Long Gallery windows form various geometric patterns on the timber floor at certain times of the day .These patterns are informing my drawings and works on paper in particular.

I am starting to mentally curate the exhibition as I want to achieve a sense of “frieze” where the physical depth of the paintings on board interplay with the flatter works on paper.  Lighting will be a key factor as we also need to isolate a darker area of the gallery to create the right conditions for a live projection work.

This space, being much larger that the shipping container studios downstairs will create the opportunity to construct different types of sets that embrace greater height and width and I am looking forward to the first evening projection shoot in the space next week. 

Week 3

This week I shot a group of projection images in the gallery space. This was quite different to working in the shipping container in the Precinct as the area was much larger and lighter- but created an opportunity to work with the reflections of the flooring. The warm brown tones of the polished timber allowed me to convey a sense of a shimmering, floating foreground – an interesting analogy as many of the source photographs from Europe were taken in Venice.   

As the focal range was longer, I used some metal framed stools to form a sculptural interruption within the images. This also allowed me to capture a sense of a corner in the space, as the projection can be used to cut in on an angle and create a stronger sense of geometry.

These works will be printed at the same scale as the paintings on board – and at this stage I am thinking about experimenting with grouping them to accentuate the layered sense of surface.  

The mental curation of the whole space is now occupying my mind, as some of the paintings are nearly complete.  As I created the works in the space that they will be exhibited in, I am also thinking about how to evoke some narrative style works that share the process of the residency itself.  

Week 4

As I am now at about a halfway point in the residency phase- the making of the work also now includes the first steps in the curation of the exhibition “Floating Geometries”.

As I work – I am very aware of the moving light patterns in the gallery space, hence the concept of floating becoming a central theme in the show. Over the next few weeks I will be finalising the paintings, drawings and photographs on site as well as shaping up content for live projection. My most recent paintings are certainly looser than previous works as my intent is to retain a strong sense of abstraction and alongside the geometric patterns inspired by the ceramic tiles drawing from local shops fronts .The motif of the arch is obvious and interestingly is a symbol of  moving through a threshold  as well as being an important technical feature of architectural  practices in many cultures.

Week 5

This week I installed a projection installation in the gallery space. The projected images feature architectural details from the precinct building and nearby streets but have been altered somewhat to maximise their geometric qualities. The projector is positioned so that it casts into a corner – sending the images across two walls and the timber floor.

 A series of Perspex boxes and a small white staircase intervene between the projected images and the walls, creating another layer of abstraction. As the images cycle through, white light hits the horizontal and vertical surfaces of the transparent structures and separates into panels of violet and green respectively. While in most prism experiments, light is passed through angles of a triangular prism, the fact that the projector is on the ground creates the angles that are necessary for this casting of extra colours into the original images. The violet and green shapes of light float into the original images, while other violet panels ( perhaps because violet light has the shortest wavelength) are cast beyond the projected images and onto the walls on either side of the installation. This phenomenon will allow me to undertake more experiments with transparent geometric forms in future bodies of work.

Week 6

As I start the curation process, several small series are emerging within the exhibition as a whole.  The industrial nature of the precinct building and interpretations of Proudfoots Lane have inspired this particular group of mixed media pieces.

I have used graphite pencils to make looser marks that evoke the precinct’s more industrial history as the car showroom Partridge and Walker. There are several references to the building’s previous life that are reinterpreted in these works, in particular a strong sense of light and shade and positive/ negative space. This suite also features the luminous green colour that I encountered at the Hayes Building in Wollumbin Street. Interestingly this particular hue is similar to the green light beams that are generated by the main projection work. This suite will form part of the process works in the final hang along with other unframed works on paper that reflect my processes of developing the more formally resolved paintings and photographs.  

Week 7

 As I continue the installation process – I am also finalising a group of mixed media works that marked the start of this phase of practice. These smaller paintings were inspired by images of European architecture and sculpture that have been an ongoing theme in my work. These pieces show how I flesh out key spatial and colour relationships that are ultimately explored in the photographic projections.  Over the last 2 months my colour pallet has altered, shifting away from the dominant use of a strong red. The geometric forms have also loosened slightly. In the final show these works will be hung alongside the most recent drawings of the precinct and will form a visual narrative of how the work has evolved by working in the Long Gallery. The sense of geometry is very strong within in the works themselves, but also how the paintings and photographs will be hung in the space.

Week 8

In the final week prior to the opening of the exhibition Floating Geometries, I installed the final series of photographs of projections, many of which were shot in this space and the Precinct shipping containers earlier this year. The projections cast images of sculptural and architectural forms which then overlay carefully positioned objects from my collection. Thus – the works also reference classic still life composition within the broader subject matter.  I take advantage of the reflective qualities of glass and metal when composing these “sets” – as well photographic paper which enhances the finely grained pattern that is generated by the projector lens.

These works on paper are complimented by a projection installation, which features subtle lighting patterns which fall on the gallery wall.

Photography by Lee Harvey – Walker (courtesy MArts Precinct)

Week 9

This week my exhibition Floating Geometries opens in the Long Gallery. Images drawn from the urban streets of Murwillumbah intersect with photographs of architecture and art collections from overseas holidays. I have recontextualised these images within the Long Gallery and Precinct spaces to create this series of paintings, photographs, mixed media works and a projection-based installation. The concept of floating geometries is based on my response to making art within the Long Gallery space and observing the moving light patterns on the timber floor throughout the day. The final images feature a strong sense of architecture and geometry, however, still hover or float within broader pictorial space.

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