Past Residencies


Raquel Ormella
October – November 2004


 
       

(NSW)

There are many models of how to work as an artist with, or in reaction to, a community. All of these models attempt to negotiate ways in which to meet the needs and desires of both the artist giving (gifting) the work and/or the community that is supporting their practice. I approached this dilemma of how to make something for the town and something for me, from three angles.

Perhaps the work that was driven the most by my own private desire and pleasure is the zine What people are wearing in Kellerbenin/ Unwept, unhonoured, unsung. It is number 8 in an ongoing collaborative zine project with Regina Walter called Flaps. Flaps is like a visual list of ideas or memories or a collection of things. Past issues have been based around our experiences growing up in Western Sydney, or are documentations of our travels to other places. Regina and I have never travelled together and the zine becomes a way for us to meditate on everyday things we see and a way to share those small observations with each other and an audience. We choose one thing to focus on, this time it was what we saw people wearing. Regina's subjects are people she encountered in the street in Japan, strangers not aware of her project, where as my subjects were the people I was seeing everyday and who mostly knew and posed for the photos. I describe it, as a private desire because the pleasure of translating the photos to drawings is the primary motivation for making the work. Also because the book format allows you to absorb the work in your space by taking it home.

In contrast to this is the 'public work' of painting one of the shop fronts in Kellerberrin's main street. The building is the old 'Craft Barn', which is next door to IASKA and is now one of the places where artists live while they are in town. It was explained to me that there was a desire to see the shop fronts of town cleaned up. I laboured with assistance from Felena and Donna and painted the building in the colours of the White-eared Honeyeater. It is more an Intervention than a community consulted project. I am sure people will continue to call the shop 'the Craft Barn'.

Remnant, the installation in the touring exhibition, tries to describe my experience of the physical landscape of Kellerberrin, of the distance between things as well as their fragility and inter-connectedness. Remnant is a series of translated images of objects you would find wandering around any urban area. These objects are from around Kellerberrin's main street, Onto these are inscribed the names of birds that are dependent on remnant native vegetation in the surrounding area. They are classified as "priority" birds or "those that will be lost from the landscape if nothing is done to protect and enhance their habitat"' The White-eared Honeyeater is one of these "priority" birds.

Urban encroachment, the effects of land clearing, salinity and drought, affect the social fabric of a town, not just its landscape. While these people, objects and bird species are specific to Kellerberrin, it could be any country town where people are trying to remain connected to the social and natural environment.