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OPEN THE ISOLATED CONNECTIONS GALLERY
WELCOME TO ISOLATED CONNECTIONS
Isolated Connections an exhibition involving the visual representations, interpretations and personal links between the artists and their individual, yet isolated connections with the Chifley Home through through an abundance of varying avenues.
The artists themselves are in fact Distance Education students studying a Visual Arts Curriculum Method class within the School of Teacher Education at Charles Sturt University with the hopes of becoming Visual Arts teachers in secondary schools all over Australia.
Unfortunately, this year has posed our artists with a plethora of restrictions, struggles, and limitations which has, in turn, lead to affecting, influencing or altering their final bodies of work and its initial undertaking. As such, this exhibition highlights the impacts, difficulties and isolation faced while living in COVID times as artists and students, while maintaining the theme of connections with past times.
As Distance Education students they have engaged in independent artmaking practice as well as collaborated via a virtual classroom, Edmodo, to share ideas and approaches, to give each other feedback on works-in-progress, to generate responses and to create artworks. Through teaching and learning simultaneously every student has contributed to and helped develop the work of the entire group. This year an especially enthusiastic and dedicated culture emerged amongst the students and, given the quality and calibre of past shows this in real compliment to this thoughtful and engaged group.
Captured Memories is a work dedicated to the encapsulation of past memories through tangible objects strung together and framed to hold a strong representation of past times and the parallel, intricate perceptions and memories of such.
The reused and recycled materials that were utilised in the creation of this artwork provide a direct correlation to the past, encapsulating its originality, uniqueness, intricacy and previous purpose, yet modernised and ‘framed’ to capture and protect the past’s objects and encompass its memories through an aesthetic, modern display.
Artist: Alana King
Title: Captured Memories
Medium: Twine, yarn and metal
Dimensions: 40 x 16 inches
This body of work highlights the women of the Women’s Land Army in relation to the shifting role of women in the 1940s. I have embroidered three women performing agriculture duties that where traditionally done by men. Women of the Women’s Land Army took up the role of the men who had left to go to war. Although it was a huge leap for women taking active roles in Australian agriculture, they were paid 30%-60% less than men.
The materiality of embroidery is significant as embroidery is traditionally seen to be women’s craft. It is also significant as it directly relates to my chosen object, the bobbin. To make this project I made a purposeful decision not to buy any new material to make this project. Instead, I used fabric and thread I already own. This came with its own challenges, but I like to think I replicated the profound resourcefulness of the women of the 1940s.
I found researching women in the 1940s in today’s climate particularly relevant. Just as we have a great change in our lives due to the coronavirus, women in the 1940s lives changed dramatically due to the war.
Artist: Alice Ham
Title: The Women of Change
Date: 20th September 2021
Medium: Embroidery on fabric
Artist location: Wagga Wagga
Federated States of Lockdown explores the government response to COVID-19 in Australia. Our experience of the pandemic has been subdued– we have not experienced the horrific human toll that results from unchecked virus spread. To achieve this, the states and territories have enacted strong border policies that have isolated us all and, in keeping us safe, have kept us apart. The exercise of these powers – sometimes against the advice of the Federal Government – has thrown into high relief where the true power in Australia lies, and it is not with the referred powers of the federation. Their disparate agendas are obvious in the scrabble for vaccines, with each fighting their corning and no sense of the expectant ‘Aussie mateship’. Individually my platters speak to these divides and to the discourse that sought to position Pfizer as the ‘good’ vaccine; collectively they speak to the experience of living in a country fractured by COVID.
Artist: Henrietta Farrelly-Barnett
Title: Federated States of Lockdown
Dimensions: 3x 44x32cm
Artist location: Sydney – Lockdown LGA of Concern
My Grandmothers showed me that the value and meaning behind a handmade product is far greater than anything money could buy. They taught me many sewing and yarning techniques that are rarely used today, I continue their legacy and craft.
A 1950s middle-aged woman would commonly adorn her furniture with numerous handmade doilies. Alas women no longer eagerly await the new doily pattern in the latest Woman’s Day magazine. However, doilies still evoke warm, homely thoughts and memories of a simpler, more innocent time. I am a middle-aged woman who can make doilies without a pattern, yet I don’t, this sparked my interest and initiated this artwork. My love for this kind of fabrication has been re-ignited by this project and memories long forgotten have been stirred and conjured.
The Mario Bros games play a large role in my family’s time together, many hours and many fond memories. In recognition of Mario Bros and in tribute to women of the 1950’s, I present this work.
Inspired by patterns found in the tin tile ceiling at Chifley house. Initially the piece was meant to be about exploring history. A history of everyday objects in an Australian setting, with pattern elements inspired by native Australian fauna. Of exploring the layers of history and how history becomes something more personal when it intertwines with memory. However we are also now living through one of the most impactful times in history. Covid, all that it has and continues to entail. This piece took on a new, transformative meaning, about progress and uncertainty. It became an exploration of history, of forgotten and abandoned presents due to the uncertain times we are facing, and an uncertain future that is still being written.
Artist: Brooke Spice
Title: A Return to Innocence
Medium: Cotton embroidery on cotton, with cotton crochet surrounds
Dimensions: Mario and Bowser- 22cmx22cm. Larger piece – 67cmx41cm
Artist location: Sydney
This work reflects on the nature of home and the hidden dangers that can lurk within supposed places of safety. Inspiration was taken from early 19th century houses and the materials used to build them. Compounds such as asbestos were deemed safe and useful at the time and found themselves woven into everyday life, including the patterned linoleum floors common in the era.
The box uses carefully cut veneers to represent the polished façade of a home-life viewed from the outside. What appears to be purely decorative brass detailing hints toward the crystal structure of one of the toxic elements of the home. The interior of the box reflects the layers of home life. What appears to be polished and clean may be concealing a more complex story; one that we may try to shield others from.
This piece speaks about the layers, veneers, and potential violence of home life in Australia.
Artist: Daniel Schneider
Title: Hidden Layers
Date: 20th September 2021
Medium: Blackwood, brass, leather, paper, recycled text, ink.
Dimensions: 300mm x 190mm x 102mm
Artist location: Hobart, Tasmania
“Embedded” was inspired by the handheld mirror owned by Elizabeth Chifley. Mirrors have an alluring essence and expose us to our own personal gaze; it is a moment of contemplation and deep scrutiny. Revealing to us the face that others see. While I was developing this body of work it took me back to the poem written by Sylvia Plath entitled “Mirror,”
“I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful”
By anthropomorphising Elizabeth Chifley’s mirror, I started to wonder about its stories and how mirrors have become a tool to define feminist beauty.
It took me back to the times when I was a kid and would watch my mother get ready in the morning and evening and prepare herself for the day or night ahead. Staring into the mirror sometimes with an air of frustration or calm contemplation.
I wondered if this was the same for Elizabeth Chifley?
Women have been depicted next to mirrors in art throughout the ages and it has become an image that emerged in cinema as a technique to reveal a dualistic nature, shadowing an unspoken thought “no man can touch or reach.” Throughout this process I have been compelled by an image of a woman sitting by her dressing table and gazing into her mirror and I desired to tell a story to relate this moment by imagining Elizabeth Chifley in a day as a woman of her time.
The process of metal embossing was lengthy and cumbersome, yet while I began to mold metal and seeing my blurred image reflecting through its aluminium surface, it reminded me of the phrase expressed by Plath “Whatever I see I swallow immediately…I am not cruel, only truthful.” It became embedded with a story and reflects both senses of the word, which is found when looking through a mirror.
Artist: Katie Stewart
Medium: Mixed media, aluminium
In celebration of the long and strong history of the Kodak Brownie, this series focuses on the simplicity of the box camera, a dark wooden box with a glass lens and a trigger. The revolutionary design changed photography forever. It transformed a complicated process into an accessible, easy and affordable option that anyone could master. Modest design elements are highlighted in this series, reflecting a study of structure, in form of up-close, abstract compositions. The simple but strong imagery emphasizes linear and textural elements, aiming to replicate the durability and simple design of the box Brownie.
The Brownie camera was in production for over 80 years. Although digital technologies have taken over in the 21st century, the dark box camera holds its place in history as a culturally significant household object, responsible for the documentation of decades of “Kodak moments”.
Artist: Luke Fazekas
Title: Kodak Moments
Medium: Inkjet photographic prints
Dimensions: 297 x 347mm
Artist location: Bucharest, Romania
These works represent a complicated relationship.
The “object” from the Chifley house immediately resonated with me on a very personal level.
Sparking nostalgia for my grandmother’s and great grandmother’s possessions. Items that crossed cultures, pieces made with inherent skill and kept with latent preciousness that spans generations and is beyond value.
Initial experimentations in multi-disciplinary printmaking practices resulted in a visual metaphor, parallels began appearing, the patterns woven in the collective rituals intertwining throughout the pages that were unfolding.
Time, repetition, unity, symmetry and contrast all embedded in the wistful excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past irrecoverable condition. Somehow attempting to appropriate the women that made the objects: the needlework and the woven basket they were displayed upon.
As I worked into each page the alignments and reflections between women creating delicate decorative pieces and refined organic functional objects emerged, all whilst existing in corresponding cultures that recognized and categorized these skills with societal values consequentially becoming my intrinsic narrative.
Artist: Melanie Mullins
Title: Intertwine I & II
Medium: Artist books: mixed media, screen print, cyanotype, analog collage
Dams 1-16 Depicts aerial views of 16 bodies of water created by damming rivers during the Snowy Hydro Electric Scheme (SHES) which was approved under the guise of being a national defence project. The mark-making in this work utilises Bluo, a domestic laundry optical whitener used in Chifley’s time, to impregnate the fabric seeking to embed a metaphorical preciousness of water. The work simultaneously honours Ben Chifley’s legacy while also alluding to patriarchal narratives and colonisation with its regard for Indigenous land occupation. The sheer section of cloth, caused by bleach corrosion, reflects the transparency of colonial expansion by cementing a defence of usurped land. The degradation of material also references the exhaustive extent to which women were responsible for domestic duties, such as laundry. The colour graduation suggests rising water while the threadbare cloth reminds us of what is submerged and lost.
Artist: Michael Schiavello
Title: Dams 1-6
Medium: Bluo (laundry optical whitener) and PVA on bleached huck cloths
Dimensions: 16 cloths of 420 x 580mm each
Artist location: Sydney
Containing- To hold or include within its volume or area. To prevent or limit the expansion, influence, success or advance of.
Through imagery and symbolism Containment explores the mental and physical experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Outside, the natural world continues to grow as time continues to pass by, while inside we are stuck, unable to advance and progress. This has led to stress, anxiety, depression, boredom, a lack of motivation, loneliness and a longing to escape.
The subjects are presented alone, trapped in a jar with limited access to the outside world. The monochrome sketch symbolises the monotony of the passing days in contrast to the changing, growing and ever present natural world outside. Containment #1 features a calendar showing the dates of this year’s lockdown extensions for rural NSW while the cage at her feet symbolises feelings of being trapped in this state. Containment #2 presents a similar scene, a bin full of cancelled events and paper planes symbolising her boredom. However, there is a vase of Iris sitting on her desk suggesting that there is still hope.
Artist: Montana O’Neill
Medium: Gouache and ink on papaer
Dimensions: 594 x 841mm
Artist location: Jindabyne, NSW
Our judgements are coloured by our perception, our backgrounds, the values of our culture and by the narratives that our culture highlights. Chifley’s pipe symbolically rendered him in a positive, approachable light in the 1960s. In this triptych, I have explored this perception, along with two differing perceptions, that completely changed the narrative of the symbolisms in the artwork. How Chifley was perceived behind closed doors and at home twisted the symbolism of a pipe, shifting perspective on the meaning within each artwork. With the use of a Fauvism style in my work, the strength of symbolism is reinforced, and the abstraction of representativeness is noted.
Artist: Saskia White
Title: Perception and Perspective
Date: 15th September 2021
Medium: Acrylic on canvas board
Dimensions: 2797 x 4200 mm (A3) x 3
Artist location: Sydney
Inspired by patterns found in the tin tile ceiling at Chifley house. Initially the piece was meant to be about exploring history. A history of everyday objects in an Australian setting, with pattern elements inspired by native Australian fauna. Of exploring the layers of history and how history becomes something more personal when it intertwines with memory. However we are also now living through one of the most impactful times in history. COVID, all that it has and continues to entail. This piece took on a new, transformative meaning, about progress and uncertainty. It became an exploration of history, of forgotten and abandoned presents due to the uncertain times we are facing, and an uncertain future that is still being written.
Artist: Sian Kortooms
Medium: Mixed-media and found object assemblage
Dimensions: 35cm x 46cm
Artist location: Hervey Bay, Queensland.
Traditionally, Staffordshire dog figurines were displayed in pairs standing guard on mantelpieces. It’s been said one woman communicated with her lover by displaying the figurines along the windowsill. To let her lover know her husband was home, the figurines faced away from each other, and when her husband was away the figurines faced each other. The potential agency these objects afforded women, as forms of communication, subversive symbols, or as a means of asserting their place and status through home decor, is expressed in this reinterpretation of the figurines through a feminine and kitschy holographic colour pallet. Their arrangement, facing each other, facing away, or melding into one entity, examines the multiple phases of partnership and love. Through replicable prints, this work honours the Staffordshire potters who developed new ceramic techniques that popularised these objects. Although the figurines have essentially disappeared from modern-day mantlepieces, often what remains now in their place are the objects hidden in the negative space: vases and candleholders.
Artist: Angela Merchán
Title: Ornamental Clichés
Date: Spring 2021
Medium: Digital print (Procreate)
Dimensions: 46cm x 23cm
Artist location: Sydney
Stitches to Seflies is inspired by conversations with older generations of women in my family who recalled attending classes in school exclusively to teach girls how to sew and be a good homemaker. This caused me to reflect upon how women’s roles in Australian society have shifted since the mid 20th century. Instead of pressures to know how to sew, women are fed the pressure through social media to stay young, edit the way they look with filters or cosmetic procedures, and have perfect and aspirational lives. I wanted to contrast these past and current expectations of women in my work by combining embroidery with typical photos present on social media. I used Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches 1934 edition and learnt a series of traditional embroidery techniques that I applied to photos sourced from Instagram and Tiktok. I overlaid a quote from Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which subtly reiterates the historical shifts over the last century that women have experienced. The panels are formatted as squares and presented in a row of three to mimic an Instagram grid.
Artist: Anna Outridge
Title: Stiches to Selfies
Date: September 2021
Medium: Embroidery and photo transfer
Dimensions: 3 x 20cm x 20cm
Artist location: Cronulla, NSW
The Chifley’s lives were complex and multi-faceted, assuming many different roles and relationships throughout their lifetime. This artwork explores this idea of complexity in their lives and, in fact, the life of each human, represented by the patterns found in the Chifley’s everyday environment. Their home is flooded with patterned designs found from various eras and artistic and design movements. This artwork focuses on the Art Décor movement, presented through a modernised mode and perspective. Standing back and taking in the artwork as a whole infers cohesion and simple completeness. However, moving closer to the digital painting invokes the realisation of complex repetition, colours and layers within the pattern that work together to form the unified wholeness.
Artist: Benjamin Paine
Date: September 2021
Medium: Digital art (Procretae, Photoshop, After Effects)
Dimensions: 1920 x 1080 pixels
Artist location: Port Macquarie, NSW
People are surrounded by an impossible number of inspirations every day. These things may change the way we want to dress, eat, live, create, earn a living and so forth. This has also been true to the way people design and decorate their homes and a major influence for modern day living is, in fact, the past.
Plaster-cast ceilings are both beautiful and intricate design details, dating back to the Victorian period and inspired by architecture from even earlier. They adorn many buildings in many artistic genres. While still being practiced in home building, renovating and restoring, nowadays, plaster casting has unlatched from infrastructure and become mobile in the form of décor.
This artwork reflects a co-existence of past and present through the applications of the renowned “Plaster of Paris” and the mobile nature of the panels. It is influenced by the ceiling of the Chifley Home and Exhibition Centre, as well as the Chifley family’s attention to detail that makes their home still so comfortable to this day.
Artist: Heidi Tamblyn
Date: September 2021
Medium: Plaster of Paris
Dimensions: 30x45cm (1), 2x 15x45cm
Artist location: Kempsey, NSW
The linoleum floors of the Chifley home tell the story of a time and place. A social memory. The mid-20th-century working-class embraced this cheap, durable flooring that allowed colour and pattern to adorn a home. When I think about lino floors, I think about my father, and his upbringing in 1940’s working-class Sydney. And I think about the disconnect between those origins and where I am now: an inner-city, university-educated artist. There is such a cacophony of imagery, and consequently a wealth of unknowns. Things that can never be known, that we must guess at. I can only guess and deduce what the times were like. The layers of times, events and, subsequently, memories, built upon themselves in my imagination and become abstract and fossilised in the sediment of time.
As I accumulated images of flooring, like artifacts, I felt like an archeologist. Linoleum is an object that is constantly being ripped up and laid over. As a disposable, changeable decoration, it contains layers of time underneath and above.
These three images are an act of excavation, attempting to extrapolate truth from broken pieces of layering. Ink and digital images are applied and stripped back, and allowed to settle on top of each other like sediment.
Artist: James Langer
Title: Palimpsests 1. Artifact, 2. Great Unknowns, 3. Abraham
Date: Setember 2021
Medium: Ink and digital prints on paper
Dimensions: 29.7cm x 21cm (x3)
Artist location: Coburg, Victoria