The Artist and the Historian decided to challenge themselves in yet another way and enter the exhibition for the first time. Neither of us could sculpture, and one of us couldn’t even paint (other than walls). So, an installation would have to do, and not just an installation but one with a message, of course.
In our quest to rescue and save art, and our pursuit of recycling, we had haunted Canberra’s recycle centre The Green Shed on many occasions. Treasures found but with no more than, ‘have no idea what to do with this but am sure it can be turned into something arty’, included a hard cardboard frame and a weird hard cardboard item that I have no idea what it originally was.
Margaret Hadfield and I often come up with ideas, ‘no more ideas’, is often shouted. We also seem to deal in misery, well the legacy of war anyway. Hence, how do we make these weird things into art and war. There were drawings (hers better than mine – a lot better!) and the question ‘what on earth have we got ourselves into?’ asked a lot. ‘The Industry of War’ emerged.
The base and ‘frame’ needed to be fibre-glassed. Fibre-glassing is not fun, unless you are Margaret who thinks it is. Sanding fibre-glassed objects is even less fun, unless you are Margaret.
Next the weird base. It so reminded me of bomb craters, and rough seas. So thick outdoor-friendly paint was applied, of course on an incredibly hot day, was applied to both frame and outdoor base.
Then there had to be a central theme/painting and I generously allowed Margaret to doing the painting after providing loads of images of war machines. She did okay.
The base had to bear witness to the destruction of war so collecting these was left to the historian, as the artist was busy painting. Assembled and discussed we needed to glue.
It had begun to come together in a solemn, sad way so it was entered. We were unsure if organizers would think it was too solemn and so sad or so ‘not sculpture’ not to be accepted. We were, which was very exciting. We needed to ask for some help with the lighting and some timber work from nice, handy, willing people.
Loading the truck with the installation and all the other items believed to ‘enhance’ the installation was heavy going. Unloading the truck and installing was plain exhausting.
A background rise in the terrain had been requested. We were given ‘a hill’. It worked to the advantage of the installation – no longer did we need to rest it at a slant on a table. ‘A hill’ did not work to the advantage of the installers, two, getting older, women – the upping and downing wasn’t great on legs. It took two and a half hours but gave us the result we had wanted, and, looked even better lit up. I asked Marg if I could now call myself an artist and very quickly she said ‘No’. She can be unkind that way.
There were some amazing sculptures amongst the 140+ entries. Very clever people. Many artists had used recycled materials which was great. When asked which was ours the answer ‘the graveyard’ tended to receive muted responses!!
One sculptor had done a magnificent large work of all the molten sculptures, workshop items, and even car that were left after his house and out-buildings were completely erased in last year’s fires. I believe he collected the ‘People’s Choice award’, which he richly deserved.
Jindabyne at Easter was very full of people, half of Canberra I think, but who could blame them, the bright sunny days with a sparkling huge lake in the background were magnificent.
You hear the words ‘I am just so grateful to be nominated’ a lot, but for Marg and I this was indeed the case – it was so exciting to be accepted in such a prestigious and well-organized event. We intend again to enter a thought-provoking installation next year but Marg if you read this, ‘It must not be so large, so involved, so heavy, and not on a hill!’.
Kathryn Spurling (The Historian)