This exhibition was curated by Rilka Oakley and plays with the parallels found between the artist collecting for creative inspiration and the tourist collecting souvenirs as a reminder of place. Just as artists (and tourists) travel to the Blue Mountains to capture the stunning views and magnificent landscape, travel to other places is key to the creative process of many of the artists who live and work there. Other artists in the exhibition include David Brazil, Elaine Campaner, Ona Janzen, Mathew Lynn, Judith Martinez, Brad Moore, Janelle Randall-Court, Wendy Tsai and Kayo Yokoyama.
The keepsake plays an important role in my own art practice. I search for objects that I feel are imbued with a certain meaning – especially old toys, dolls and marionettes – and use them to create a narrative. The narrative is often based on fairytales, myths or popular culture – the toys become the characters and the old tins, boxes and containers become the stage. This new context alters the toys meaning and allows me to juxtapose notions of childhood, innocence and wonder against adult themes of desire, fear and death. I often cut up the toys and reconstruct them with handmade mechanisms and create motion and sound by using music-box movements. Wind a key and a ventriloquist dummy’s head will rotate like a fairground clown from Luna Park – or the maiden, Europa, might ride a bucking bull whilst her handmaiden twirls with surprise.
Briteway Soldier, 2011, 17x12x12cm, music box assemblage
The Banking Giant, 2011, 16x9x6cm, music box assemblage
As a child my introduction to myths and fairytales was essentially through television. My gods and goddesses, heroes and villains came from old Hollywood movies and American television shows. There were heroes and villains in TV shows such as The Persuaders, The Man from Uncle, The Untouchables and Superman. There were also actors such as Marilyn Monroe and Humphrey Bogart who were continually cast by Hollywood as archetypal figures: the love goddess and the cynical but noble hero. Heroes were also to be found in American/Japanese animations such as Gigantor and Astro-Boy. I loved Astro-Boy but thought it extremely unfair that Astro-Girl could not fly and did not seem to do anything ‘brave’.
Television also brought factual narratives into my childhood. I have early memories of my mother jumping in front of the television during a News Broadcast. I did not understand what the Vietnam War was, but as I watched the look on my mother’s face and the flickering light of the television through her skirt, I knew that it was something horrific. I also watched the Moon Landing and held my breath as Neil Armstrong took his ‘giant step for mankind’ apprehensive about what might happen as he stepped onto the moon surface.
While preparing for this show I acquired many toys that were made during the 60’s based on popular culture and historical events. I have used the toys in this exhibition to create characters and new versions of classic myths and fairytales. These works often have a dark and ironic edge to them but I hope that they also convey a sense of wonder. The works are operated by hand-made mechanics and music-box movements. Turn a handle, wind the music-box, and watch a femme fatale dance or an astronaut spin into eternity….