Why I do what I do

I’m not sure any artist knows the answer to this question.  However, I will give it a go.  Sixteen years ago I moved to Australia.  I vividly remember the acute feelings of dislocation, unfamiliarity and loneliness.  My response was to travel widely – to visit some of the further flung reaches of Western Australia.  I was fascinated by the dramatic nature of the landscape, the scale, the emptiness, the colours.

iphone pictures 013Purnulu National Park, Kimberley, Western Australia (also known as The Bungles)

The state of Western Australia is stunning.  I found that I collected bits and brought them home – rocks, bags of soil, interesting seeds.   It was my way of making the unfamiliar more tangible.

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I didnt know what to do with this material.  During a ceramics class at Fremantle Arts Centre I was introduced to the work of Australian ceramic artists, Ben Richardson  http://www.benrichardson.com.au/ and Steve Harrison http://hotnsticky.com.au/.  Their ideas of using found materials, sourced locally as opposed to just buying ingredients from a ceramic supply shop struck a chord.  Somehow, using materials that you find or dig up out of the ground yourself seems to make emminent sense to me.  It seemed a way of incorporating a sense of place, a connection with the environment around you, creating familiarity with locale.  Once I connected with this philosophy I began to view the landscape with different eyes.  Travels became research and any interesting mineral became fair game.

DSC_0049Beach in South Western Australia (one of my favourite spots).  You can see the areas of black sand which provoked my interest.

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Collecting materials.  I am not quite sure what this sand is, but a geologist friend has had a guess at ilmenite, magnetite and garnet.  Further testing is being carried out by Earth Sciences at UWA and the results will be discussed at a public program on 12th September 2014 3-5pm at University of Western Australia as part of the Here and Now 2014 exhibition programme http://www.lwgallery.uwa.edu.au/exhibitions.  I also use red dirt collected from the Pilbara and Kimberley which I assume is iron rich (due to its colour) and soil collected from the Perth Hills.

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