In an era of the ‘outsourced life’, artists Mark Richardson, Susie Elliott and Helen Mathwin presented their collaborative work Irrational Maker through Wide Open Road Art for the 2019 Castlemaine State Festival. The artists surveyed residents in Castlemaine about their abiding, perhaps irrational, desire to make things themselves, for themselves — furniture, jewellery, art, food, zines, clothes and so on. This information was interpreted in two simultaneous works in separate locations. A bushland site in Kalimna Park with a lone home-made 3D printer churning out statistical models of our results, a homage to the measurable and transparent language of economic values.
At the second site, Wide Open Road Art in downtown Castlemaine, a hand-crafted, 3-dimensional muslin structure was laboriously made by Mathwin and Elliott, whose two-and-a-half hour, live, repetitive performance mimicked the motions of the digital site. Their structure created a space for the public to encounter the materiality and subjectivity of the value of authoring our possessions and the renegade act of irrational action.
With the interplay of old/new technologies and empirical/subjective epistemologies, Irrational Maker emphasises an abiding urge to connect: to the objects we surround ourselves with, to the processes and materials of making, and perhaps most importantly, to the human relationships that support these endeavours.
The artists wish to thank Kent Wilson and the 2019 Castlemaine State Festival, Jo Porter, Elizabeth Walsh and the Regional Centre for Culture 2018, and Jill Orr and Fiona Orr for their generous and invaluable support throughout the production of this work.
Home For Now, Home For A Lifetime (2018) is a work performed by Helen Mathwin, Susie Elliott and Mark Richardson in conjunction with Wide Open Road Art as part of Craft Victoria’s annual Craft Cubed event. It was a multi-stage, roving art event that explored tensions between ideals and reality of ‘home’, in a time in Australia when this symbol has perhaps never been so laden with fear and desire. Taking place in the Wide Open Road Art float around inner Melbourne, the work engaged in a public conversation and collaborative making process to produce a final installation in the Docklands.
Few things seem as fundamental or universal as the idea of ‘home’, and yet the reality of that for different people, at different times is worth exploring. Through conversations with the public and their own experiences the artists sought to evoke the lost homes that have been preserved in participants’ minds and which have deeply etched an idyllic sense of home. Passers-by were asked to discuss their ideas while at the same time physically forming clay and other artefacts to represent personal memories and perceptions. Stage two allowed the artists to represent their their engagement with the public, to ask where the archetypal sense of ‘home-for-a-lifetime’ fits within modern housing reality; densified, rapidly built and hyper-competitive? Building on previous work at Wide Open Road Art and with Craft Cubed 2017, this year’s project explores our individual archetypes and the struggle we undertake in trying to bring these to life against the backdrop of our current social experience.
Home without house. Dissipation.
Why do we make art? and in the current socio-economic climate how do we make art? Through our WORA talks interview series Susie Elliott and I explore these questions with a broad range of artist. To see our interview series please go to https://wideopenroadart.com/interviews/
Many Thanks to Mount Alexander Shire for supporting this project.
Presented as part of the 2018 Creative State Summit The Post-Truth Booth sought to actively engage the general public with the concept of post-truth, hence fighting a sense of truth fatigue (Ravenscroft 2017). This was done through a series of conversations with members of the public that addressed ideas of truth, post-truth and meaning making in the modern world. These conversations unfolded in our converted horse float (booth) parked at the front of The Melbourne Museum whilst the Creative State Summit also explored Post Truth within the museum walls. The expert talks taking place within the museum were live streamed out to our booth for passers by to view and comment on. Simultaneously our interviews with the public were live streamed onto a 4 x 5 mtr screen inside the museum, creating a live post-truth scenario in which expert and public opinion were intermingled and represented indiscriminately. To view footage of the conversations that took place as part of the Post-Truth Booth go to the Wide Open Road Art Youtube channel
The Post-Truth Booth was supported by Creative Victoria, The Regional Centre for Culture and The Melbourne Museum. Artists involved: Helen Mathwin and Susie Elliott (lead artists/ project managers) Hermione Merry, Bron Batten, Emily Donahue and Tom Millward.
Linear Response (Helen Mathwin & Susie Elliott 2018) is based on lines and shapes extracted from the Castlemaine 2018 Arts Open project, delivered by Wide Open Road Art. Hard lines are juxtaposed with insignificant moments to create an unclear intersection.
The Handmade house is a project put together by Wide Open Road Art for Craft Victoria’s Craft Cubed Festival, 2017. In various locations within Melbourne’s CBD four artists manually crafted a house frame from rudimentary materials in three two hour time slots. This process was linked via live streaming to another three artists in downtown Castlemaine. These artists responded simultaneously with 3D printing, development and installation of small, digitally manufactured houses in the Wide Open Road Art cabinets.
Throughout the work, themes regarding the double-edged nature of the house emerged; of nostalgia, the home as a sacred, golden place, but also of its flimsiness, transience, and even limiting nature.
The house is the ultimate item of modern super-consumption, particularly here in Australia. With its market value and consumer desire both at stratospheric levels, houses have rapidly become the objects that perhaps best speak of status, inequality and dominance of our environment. In The Handmade House we seek to highlight attitudes in the housing market that extend mass consumption practices of the 20th century – of rapid urban sprawl and quick construction, but also of feverish consumption and the creation of enormous disparities in wealth.
The show juxtaposes modern consumption and with new aspirations that have been placed on Maker and craft culture. With it we see the renewed value of laborious, often hand-made craft practices, but we also see previously unseen forms of making emerging, with new tools and capacities for distributed collaboration. Both of these rely on vibrant communities of innovation, exchange and co-operation, particularly facilitated by the internet. The show utilises the near-instant transfer of information from Melbourne CBD (of the laborious, traditional methods of manual timber construction) to our artists in regional Victoria, who digitally model and reproduce a structure at their remote location, using the homemade 3D printer. Thus we also explore the contemporary relevance of an ‘art centre’ like the Melbourne metropolis, and how regional areas are increasingly sites of innovation and vibrant making, involving both local and distributed communities, in distinctively new ways.