I work as an artist, writer and curator, and together with my five artist curator colleagues Julianne Zoviar Clunne, Jeremy Hawkes, Marion Conrow, Scott Trevelyan and Julie Barratt we are collaborating on researching and developing the Epicormia Collective artist-run project, The Re-authoring Impulse, scheduled to open this year on November 23 at the Northern Rivers Community Gallery Ballina precinct.
After driving through Kinglake in Victoria in 2009 with my sisters, almost eight months after the Black Saturday bushfires, we were astonished to witness the sea of redgreen epicormic growth bursting from the a dark sea of charred eucalypt forests. We sensed a renewed feeling of hope.
I had witnessed this type of aftermath of bush fire many times before in my life while growing up in Queensland, but never on such a vast scale. It struck me on that road trip with my sisters Moo and Anne, in a more profound way than ever before, how nature’s impulse is to regrow and spring forth again, even after the most harrowing trauma and devastation to an ecosystem.
Somehow, the idea twinged, this insight seemed like a useful metaphor in my own life at the time, bringing an added mindfulness to the series of complex traumas in my direct-lived experience over the past 14 years – including being assaulted in an unprovoked “gay bashing” in Bondi in 1998 and again in an unrelated and unprovoked bashing in 2002 while living in Melbourne – I applied this metaphor of epicormic growth to my body in subtle ways and the capacity of the body, to renew in an altered redgreen way.
Jumpcut. This Epicormia Collective artist-run – curatorial project, The Re-authoring Impulse was inspired in part by the long term impassioned work of artist and curator Julie Barratt in the Northern Rivers. In October 2014, I interviewed Julie about an extraordinary exhibition she was curating and installing at the time in the Northern Rivers Community Gallery in Ballina titled, Twelve + 3.
Twelve + 3 was an exhibition that inspired me in so many ways, and re-triggering some of these positive recent transformational experiences I mention above, I was relieved to be sensing positive triggers rather than the negative triggers I had experienced for a long time while living with complex PTSD. So much so that after chatting to Julie in more depth, and who kindly took the time and the attention to care and to listen to my direct lived experiences of disability, encouraged me, emboldened me, to apply for funding to curate and develop an integrated artist-run exhibition project with other artists living with and or working with arts and disability in the Northern Rivers
I am truly grateful for Julie’s shared enthusiasm that day and for imbuing me with a sense of hope, empowerment and possibility. It is in part due to Julie’s long term work as an artist-to-artist mentor that has made impossible things possible for me once again, and for so many other artists.
Jumpcut. October 2016. Two years later, this newly formed Northern Rivers based artist-run project engaging with a blended social media and museum gallery ecosystem is building momentum and unfolding in delightful shared ways. You can read more about us here as we updates the news feed in the moments between developing, researching and making art.
I am an artist who has been working professionally as an artist since 1984, I work with photo media, and one of the key themes in my work is archives, and one of the ongoing impulses in my work is re-imagining, remixing and re-authoring archives.
In one of the two new wall- based installation works I am producing now for The Re-authoring Impulse exhibition I have retrieved a series of found photographs of the Western Front, taken by an unknown photographer, and from the research I have undertaken so far perhaps these documents of witnesses the Western Front are rare examples of “soldier photography”
My attention to re-imagining these archival images is very different one to the arsenal of WW1 archival images pouring forth now during the series of expensive grand state-sanctioned 2014- 2018 Centenary “celebrations” and public exhibitions. Photographs that in my view continue the impact of dominant and outmoded narratives of state-sanctioned war, violence, honour, empire, national pride, mateship and so on. My focus is on a series of intimate portraits of women and children in this archive who formed part of a vast cosmos of loving, caring and kind kinship circles that impacted so favourably on so many, an impact so often neglected, unrepresented or under-represented in official WW1 narratives.
I have re-imagined these archival portraits as a series of strange vignettes and placed them into a theatrical space, as if these women and children are about to stream a chorus of timeless, untold and secret monologues about their own direct-lived experiences of war and kinship.
Follow this link about the aftermath of the Black Saturday Bushfires in Victoria.
Follow this link to my 2014 interview with Artist curator Julie Barratt.
Follow this link to find out more about NRCG Ballina: