Australian Fine Artist

Art Chat by Lani Fender, Damien Elderfield, Robert Delves and Chaco Kato

Date: February 28, 2013

Venue: McClelland Survey at McClelland Gallery

Out in the changing weather in Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula, a hardy group which included a few students from TAFE walked around the 2013 Survey to hear artists talk about the experience of planning, design ing and building their pieces for the 2012 Survey.

The first was a cooperation between an architect and artist called “The Grassy Mole 2012”. Lani and Damien seemed to have a great rapport as they chatted about the process of design which was mostly from an architectural plan, to the building which was mostly done by Damien, the artist who also brought his vision for the piece into the design as well as the positioning in the park. From a small-scale design, the environment and surrounding landscape was considered as very important. How was the work going to fit in, reflect and interact with it’s placement. How was it going to work for viewers and all ages that would not only look at it but walk in and around it? this is where OH&S and engineering came into the plan as well as working with the organisers at the gallery.

The second piece was “Urban Wildlife” by Robert Delves. This was the result of a 3 year project motivated by the drawings done when Cook discovered Australia through to the drawings of George Stubbs, but applied in reverse. Instead of working towards lifelike and realist presentation of his kangaroos, Roberts started with realist drawings and moved away to his own stylised versions. By going out and asking for the cooperation of councils and roadwork crews, he was able to acquire road signs as a way to construct his vision of the natural environment via man-made materials and the impact of urbanisation. He also allows the site to influence his design and has been inspired to go larger and keep experimenting for future sculptures. Inspired by artists such as Rosalie Gascoigne, who he knew personally, Robert is enjoying the process of learning how he feels about being “Australian” through his art.

The last piece was by Chaco Kato, called “Himo Theory”. This large installation was also inspired by the surrounding area. Chaco spent a lot of time working out how it would fit in and around the trees and much of the work was not finalised until she was on site. The string, which is white, hangs like spider’s webs, overlapping and inviting you to walk into it at the same time. The hanging pieces in the centre look like elaborate light fittings or chandeliers and the views through the gaps in the string show interesting shapes and colours from the surrounding bushland. Light, wind and positioning are very important in the construction of this piece and it was designed from sketches on site with a lot of care. The interaction of viewers was also very important.

Common themes gleaned from these artists were consideration of the environment, cooperation with other artists and organisers, thought for viewers in a three dimensional space, creation of a safe installation and taking a risk to make something creative and outside their comfort zone.

Rather than hearing or reading from a third party, listening to the artists themselves talking about their journey of creation is not only interesting from a non-artist’s point of view but very informative and inspiring for practising artists as well. Reflected by the wide range of ages and types of people who attended in the rain and wind today.

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