GOING ROUND IN SQUARES, ARARAT GALLERY TAMA
The artworks of Going Round in Squares explore ideas around the grids and boundary lines which have governed life in Australia since colonisation. Roads, fence lines, walls, furniture and even social boundaries, reinforce ways of being I have come to call a ‘geometric discipline’. Textile practice especially, performed atop the gridded warp and weft of fabric, is a form of discipline that has historically shaped women’s lives, their education and opportunities. As women have traditionally been the makers of homes, my artworks re-work textile traditions to explore the disciplining roles of neatness, order, pattern, binding and containment, all ideas associated with the domestic. Each artwork of this exhibition carries a narrative grown from evidence left behind by my ancestors who settled (invaded) and made their many homes in South Australia and Victoria from 1838 onwards. They left behind their particular geometric legacies and altered regions irrevocably in the form of clearing land and the importation of non-native species. Undoubtedly their making of homes unhomed others.
Going Round in Squares also brings up my frustration, especially at a national level, of being stuck in a loop; a colonised and fear-based mode of repetitive thinking around land ownership and possession. The limitations of going round the same arguments, ongoing denials, and silences in our history are not serving us well. Thus as well as working within grids and squares for this exhibition I work in repeated loops and rings, exploring the built up layers of a round and round form. Each artwork uses found materials from wool, needlework, pelts, kits, and other domestic textiles to repurpose my family’s as well as other families’ materials in new directions. By re-working domestic materials and traditions I mine them for knowledge and to break out of restrictive habits, and re-direct these traditions into new trajectories which recognise our ongoing colonising modes in order to shift them for future generations.
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.