I’ve sublet this space from Kathy Temin – it’s worked out quite well, actually. We seem to be in sync with these periods of time where it works for her to sublet it. Kathy wasn’t going to be using the space, and then I had this large project to do.
For this work, I have a pretty pragmatic approach where I know what I’m doing to make the work so this is really a construction space for me. If I had this space for a long period of time where I was in here working and developing things it might be different, but I’ve come in with a pretty tight timeframe that I know I have to make the work in. There’s no mucking around.
I usually work in a studio at home in Richmond, so it is actually nice to have a period of time where I’m with other artists. It’s not so much about the physical environment, it’s more the interactions and conversations and that dialogue which I think can be really useful. And just feedback as you can be quite exposed here. I always have the door open and people walk in to say hi or chat… and days when you’re not having such a good day, you want to close things off, but then on the other hand, that interaction and feedback can be really good.
This work [to be shown at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney for exhibition The National in March] will be a large spiral work, made up of these individual panels constructed on the floor, which we’ll end up joining together to make one continuous length. The work will have over 7,000 cut, painted and hand glued hessian circles in it.
I will have made this work over a few months, with long days in the studio out here. There has always been a deliberate desire to delay the readability of the text within the work and to slow things down to force people to actually experience it and work out what that experience might be for them individually. This can vary on the day and according to each person, obviously.
The text that runs through this work is, “To keep going breathing helps,” which again relates to that whole notion of ongoing labour. Then within the work there’s other found sentences that I’m incorporating, which are around repetition and counting and the idea of repetition being an ongoing sense of wanting to get it right, as opposed to some creative thing.
It’s about doing and redoing things to continue to try to get it right. The text is actually very simple, but it’s an open gesture or open provocation really. So something like “To keep going breathing helps” is quite a dumb self-evident truth in a way, but it
can have a resonance beyond that, and it relates to the process of making the work in a self-reflexive way.
There are a few different projects all going concurrent- ly which is good, because they all require a different focus and a different set of skills and collaborations. For example, I’m doing an artist book with Trent Walter of Negative Press for the NGV Art Book Fair in March.
John Wardle Architects are undertaking a major refurbishment at MADA’s [Monash University’s art an design campus] library so I’ve received a commission from MUMA to do a large text work – Give or Take. For the internal art wall I’ve proposed a tiled wall, out of small circular red and white ceramic penny tiles. This will be a really interesting opportunity because I’ve not worked in this way before.