Wednesday, 10 January 2007

Welcome to Fodder

Here's an image of lawn in Kalgoorlie, which I took during the tour of Water Medicine. Reading Geoffrey Blainey's book about C.Y.O'Connor, it seemed that the main use of the pipeline that supplied water from Perth to Kalgoorlie was to support the domestic gardens in the city. For me, these images of the 'registered lawns' have been a telling sign of the disconnection that comes from particular gardening practices in Australia.

Welcome to fodder, which is a 'dia-blog' between myself and Nalda Searles, the West Australian fibre artist. We have been working together for a number of years -- I as curator/writer and Nalda as curator/writer/maker. We have been corresponding much in recent times, and would like this to contribute to future possibilities for fibre-based work.

We thought it would be timely to introduce a third party to this conversation by putting it on the web. Whether or not anyone visits, it provides us with a stage on which we can test our thoughts to the implied objective eye.

For me, Nalda's work has a special personal meaning. Having grown up in Perth, I have a deep attachment to its environs -- the bleached light, glossy eucalypt leaves against an infinite blue sky, red earth and ferrous rock. Built on this is a deep respect for her as a maker, as someone who has given herself to the task of becoming friends with the land. This has been of significant influence to a number makers, which I found interviewing emerging artists in Craft Unbound: Make the Common Precious.

What do I hope this conversation will achieve? It seems part of our phenomenological equipment that we distinguish between thinking and making -- what we mean and how we express it. And it is our cultural inheritance (thanks Plato), that thinking is perceived as prior to making. Making is something that we can take for granted (this is something we are exploring in more depth in the What's in the Making). When it comes to colonising a country like Australia, this attitude leads to a kind of blindness to the new land. The ideas come from the European enlightenment, and their realisation in Terra Australis will be a mirror to its rationality. There was little expectation of dialogue with the land, or its people.

It seems critical to the continuing journey of a country like Australia that we learn the language not only of its spiritual custodians, but also the land that they own traditionally. For me, Nalda is a pioneer working on a frontier that it has taken Balanda more than 200 years to encounter. She is learning the language of grass, and applying that language to other materials in our world, including found fibres. I'm interested to learn from Nalda more about how she goes about this. I am hoping that there might be something from this can could be applied to other domains -- that we can move from making to thinking, to be fabercentric rather than logocentric.

But that's enough playing to the stalls. Let's get started. Now to you, Nalda, what do you hope to achieve from this dialogue?


Nalda Searles said...

Thank you Kevin,
Close to my mind immediately is the photograph you choose to open our dialogue. Kalgoorlie, the place of my birth and where I have visited many times in the past 15 years has a major problem with domestic lawns.Flocks of pink and grey galahs delight in snipping off the succulent base of the green grass leaf. Kalgoorlie Boulder sports playing fields are another of their favourite picnic spots. Along wiith a sprinkling of corellas the galahs are amazing to watch as they play while nibbling, turning somersaults etc.
In another country the birds may be seen as sacred visitors and even encouraged but lawn rules in Australian towns and cockies are a curse.
The ngaatjatjarra word for pink and grey galahs is kinturrka, for corellas its kakalala and for grass, tjanpi.
I am hoping this writing exchange will be an opportunity to be able to see ideas which more or less develop hand in hand with the making and yet can finsh up silent as the crafted object then tends to stand alone. No vioce to support it and it slips into the realm of being static.
If I would choose a few words to explain why the things I make lean towards a reading of the peculularity of being here it would be that space and time are also my major tools.
Even though I have travelled extensively in my life I now foind myself retracing over and over the lines of my early years, now thinking with a different sort of mind, I can roll around all sorts of
mental inventions as a way of understanding . And even more as a maker I am driven to solving the problem of how will I make that idea. Then my mind roams around what my enviroment has to hand.
Sometimes I find the answer right on the side of the road. For instance a doona, laying of the road betweem Kalgoorlie and Southern Cross very early in the morning. a snow white clean doona. When I stiched hundreds of blades of grass onto its white surface it became an amazing pelt. Long yellow grass, giuldford grass. a grass doona, an introduced grass in this case.So out of that simple act come many meanings both for myself and for others.
Sometimes with objects I make there is a real effort to contribute to an Australian myth or at least a West Australian myth. to me it seems an important path to follow. It is a very serious path. I have the luxury of my life to keep churning up as fodder with all its vagaries and offer it for contempaltion.
Grass, fibre, twigs, and many other found and recyled objects kind of move around me when i am thinking, and there is this joining of the idea and that certain materialthat fit together, sometimes fleeting, at other times it hiits the mark.
But always the vocabulary I have deleloped is built around trying to make sense of life.

Nalda Searles said...

Nalda Searles aknowledges:
Fodder for making dialogue has been made possible through a grant from ARTSWA, the West Australian Department for the Arts and Culture.

Anonymous said...

kia orana nalda,
in the islands that means HELLO
i have been given an assignment to work on and i have chosen you to be my inspiration.
i know nothing of your work and researching artist is new to me, i would love to hear your opinios about the way you construct your doing a case study on you and cant seem to find enough information to help me out.would love to hear from you...yours sincerely...ryvaane bates