Sunday, February 7, 2016

Gillian Lavery - Some preliminary thoughts on time, chance and not knowing.

Like most, the idea for this exhibition started with a conversation. This became a series of conversations, exchanges of ideas, questions, references... Many of these circled the idea of not knowing and how this notion plays a role in art practice. I came across this idea in On Not Knowing: How Artists Think (by Elizabeth Fisher & Rebecca Fortnum (eds). I found the notion of practice as a place where things can happen, as opposed to an object, enlightening. It is a mode of working that I am continuing to explore.

Each of the artists in this exhibition has a very different way of utilising not knowing. Kath uses materials; in this case bees wax, as tools with which to draw, exploiting their unique qualities and properties. The artwork is installed in relation to the particular space. It is in one state of completion when the exhibition opens, however, due to the vulnerable nature of the materials, it is perpetually unfixed and proceeds to transform over the duration of the exhibition. The artwork is never fully stable, nor does Kath control or pre-determine the exact outcome. She sets it up and allows the materials to interact with the environmental and architectural conditions of the location. She therefore allows chance, change and not knowing to play a large role in the artwork.

Kath Fries, Solace, Hill End, 2013

Similarly Renuka’s work is not static, she is constantly changing and adjusting it in the space. Renuka enters the gallery with a set of materials and reference points in hand, and works in response to these within the space and time frame of the exhibition. While the result or outcome is not predetermined she has control over how the work changes; each decision is made in the moment.

Renuka Fernando, Studio Articulate, 2015

It is a generous gesture to share the figuring-it-out, studio-like space with the viewer. It is a reminder that what you see in the gallery is simply a point in time in the history of an artwork even though we tend to think of it as ‘the end’, whole, complete, finished. It is rare the artist themselves will think an artwork as an end point, nonetheless it is often viewed as such.   

In this exhibition I have two different but complementary artworks. The first is two stop-motion making/unmaking documentary animations. I never completely know how these documentary animations are going to look; I only know what it feels like to make them. Each time I have incorporated a situational component that places me in a less controlled position. I enjoy discovering the work when it becomes an animation, seeing what occurred from a different perspective of making.  

Gillian Lavery, Blondous Spiral (screen shot), 2015, animation

The addition of a wall drawing provides an alternative reference to time and a different aspect of not knowing. I know the shape and types of mark that I am going to make; the pencils that I am going to use and I have a set time frame. But I am not exactly sure what will occur during the making of this work. It is always a unique experience to engage with the audience when one is working in the gallery space.

This wall drawing will be created and destroyed over the course of the exhibition. At the finissage event there will be a formal erasure of the drawing. In concert with the animations created through unpicking, the erasure of the drawing will form a starting point for new work. It is a deliberate choice to work in a way where rather than the material artwork it is the act of making (or unmaking) that is the primary focus.