Fabric of Life

The Fabric of Life community art project was a part of the Kickstart Arts Happiness Project, a three year project involving artists, health and community workers and educators working in collaboration with community members to make beautiful films about what true happiness means to them. Fabric of Life is a large multi-piece fabric collage made from the discarded and donated clothing of community members throughout Tasmania. The fabric artworks contain handwritten stories and anecdotes of the individuals involved, which were digitised to create an interpretive touch screen display. Over 160 individual participants contributed to the making of Fabric of Life, ranging in age and ability from prep students to elderly nursing home residents. Each of the 35 fabric collage panels fit neatly into the triangle framework of the geodesic dome Happiness Pod, a portable solar powered cinema and workshop space designed to travel to remote, disadvantaged and isolated communities. To date the Happiness Pod and the Happiness Maintenance Crew have travelled to AgFest, Oatlands, Franklin, Glenorchy, Salamanca Lawns and Glenorchy Works Festival.

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Built Environment

The built up environment we live in is built upon another environment from millennia past. Shells of living creatures in the surrounding waterways literally became part of the new built environment; burnt to provide lime for mortar to bind bricks into buildings. Shellfish, once a dietary staple of the original inhabitants, supplied a new industry and livelihood to the invaders. Today they continue to offer culinary pleasure for locals and visitors alike.

The composition of the work represents the interdependency of humans and nature. The geometric steel structures refer to the human-made and the shells represent nature. The mesh holds the shells in place efficiently, much like in farming, but also creating an all too familiar geometric aesthetic. The blocks are arranged to capture a sense of play; an unexpected chance encounter between human and nature.

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Equivalent is made up of 168 paper bricks made with a 'Kambrook Combusta Brick Maker', a one-time novelty item of the 1980s. The shredded newspaper is soaked in water and pressed together in the brick maker, and then, once dried out, can be used to burn in a fire. This work references Carl Andre's minimalist work of the 1960-70s comprising fire bricks configured in different ways but always with the equivalent number, and therefore mass, of bricks.

Robert Hughes, in his seminal work, 'The Shock of the New' (page 393), had this to say of the work: "The essential difference between a sculpture like Andre's Equivalent VIII, 1978, and any that had existed before in the past is that Andre's array of bricks depends not just partly, but entirely, on the museum for its context. A Rodin in a parking lot is still a misplaced Rodin; Andre's bricks in the same place can only be a pile of bricks".

This work also utilises the mundane, the daily newspaper, and, in its 24x7 configuration, references the 24/7 news media that is slowly eroding the relevance of the printed press, and moving it towards obsolesence, much like the Kambrook Combusta Brick Maker. The context of the gallery is even more important, for if this work were left in a parking lot, it would quickly deteriorate. Although made from such ephemeral material, it shares the property of many 'readymade' minimalist artworks, in that the original purpose of the bricks can still be utilised. Like Andre's work it is indeed made up of 'fire' bricks.

 Milk Bottle Wall

This wall created a dynamic solution that met the needs of a client, reused an on-site waste stream, and saved a load of materials and money. The Westend Pumphouse on Murray St, Hobart, had been undergoing a refurbishment since the beginning of the 2012, and one of the requirements was a wall that would screen the entrance to the toilets from the new restaurant area, but still allowing light to flow through the building.

With the café/restaurant using more than fifty bottles a day, a wall created from milk bottles turned out to be the ideal solution. In the end, the cost of the metal framework and the locally manufactured brackets and plates, were less than ten-percent of using traditional materials. The fact that the bottles were reused on site really adds to the character of the work. If any bottles are damaged they can simply be replaced on-site.

Not only can the bottles easily be replaced, they can also easily be reconfigured in different patterns, and by deleting bottles, shapes, figures, letters and numerals can be created from negative space. The fact that the wall can be reconfigured allows ongoing collaboration, yet without compromising the integrity and originality of the design. Staff at the Westend Pumphouse regularly reconfigure the wall, so it could well be different each time you visit.

Just think how many cafés and restaurants throughout Hobart, Australia and the world, that are using single-use plastic containers to provide milk for customers’ coffees. It only took a couple of months to collect the two-thousand, two hundred and eighty milk bottles to fill this wall, from just one café. So you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out that there are a lot of bottles being landfilled everyday around the world.

What really matters is seeing it. You will be amazed at the way the translucent plastic is transformed by natural and artificial light to create a constantly changing array of subtle hues and tones. The way you don’t encounter the full magnitude of the wall until you are well inside the building is quite magical. The difference from one side of the wall to the other is also interesting, something you really need to experience first hand.

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Consumer Impossibility


A performance based installation exploring the notion of choice in the age of excess.

The three thousand videos present in the installation compile around ten thousand hours of viewing time. Watching just over two and a half hours of videos a day it would take ten years to view them all. Spending eight hours a day, Monday to Friday for a month, will only account for about two percent of the available viewing.

Yet this whole collection could be digitalized and stored on a multi-terabyte hard drive no bigger than just one of these videos. The fact that we can store so much information now on drives, devices and now in the ‘cloud’ means the physical presence of our choices has altered.

Many people are now downloading more music and video each day than they actually view. Sure these files are easy to access, and portable, but we still only have so many hours in the day to watch or listen to them. Does having so much choice actually enhance our lives, or are we creating stress and anxiety for ourselves?

This installation investigates these issues by exploiting the medium of videocassette tapes. They are a format that most people alive today can relate to and understand. You only have to pick one up to know if it is a short, medium or long length of tape, which we know equates to several minutes up to several hours of viewing.

To accentuate the dilemma of choice the videos have all been labeled the same. The viewer can watch whatever they like, though won’t really know what, until the video is played. There is also no remote control, compelling the viewer to make the extra effort, enabling the choice to seem more existent. Perhaps the greater the effort, and the less choice we have, the more we will appreciate what we have.

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