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.
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.
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.
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.