Being involved with the Epicormia Collective for The Re-authoring Impulse project has been an opportunity and experience of singular value.
In late 2014 had recently relocated to the Northern Rivers area after 20 years of living and working in Melbourne when I was asked to be part of the proposed project by my long term friend and fellow artist, Marion Conrow. I was more than delighted, I was saved from a period of paralyzing indecision that had marked all aspects of my life for some years. Here was a way forward, a chance to begin anew, an opportunity for growth.
This was synchronous on many levels: a way into the local arts community, a chance to collaborate with other artists who experience neural – difference, financial support for materials that could allow me to experiment, and a theme with an incredible, almost spooky resonance both personal and artistic.
My art practice is driven by process which seems at odds with my output. I have dealt primarily in art objects, artefacts for so long that I couldn’t imagine what any new works would look like. But, I went back to beginnings of art practice, literally scratching away at surfaces…the blank page, the lump of malleable material, the empty room, the dark mind. This was a process about growth as contingency, mark making as an agency of response; response being dictated by blockage, the seemingly insurmountable.
Receiving funding from Arts NSW for this collaborative project has proven to be invaluable in many ways. It’s a sad but true fact that this kind of recognition provides validation as an artist, as well as the means necessary to not only continue in arts practice, but have the resources to boost this practice through the acquisition of materials, resources, professional development opportunities, guidance, feedback and the social space necessary to make contemporary art.
Being free from the necessity to make art that has a commercial appeal in order to continually self-fund my practice enables me to explore new themes and techniques with complete confidence. The opportunity to exhibit with my peers in a space that is not solely or primarily focused on selling art was something of a novelty, and not something I have had the luxury of participating in since art school.
This has invigorated my dedication to furthering my professional practice and seeking out opportunities (funding, residencies, competitions and the like) that I may never have had the confidence to pursue.
The experience of collaboration and collectivism as an artist is always a rewarding one, but is seldom possible as a visual artist. I cannot articulate fully the benefits I gained from being part of the Epicormia Collective; personal and artistic support, peer critiques, sharing ideas and resources, my artist website… and having a safe space to meet are all intrinsic to this experience yet somehow the sum is greater than the total of the parts.
Its is impossible to define – and I think if it was possible to pin down and label, then the experience wouldn’t be necessary.
I am truly grateful for this opportunity. Many thanks to Arts NSW…and to Paul, Marion, Julie, Scott and Julianne.