In 2012 I received a grant from Arts Tasmania (Assistance to individuals) to create a body of work in 2013. This blog takes the form of a visual diary, illustrating the formation of my series.
See ‘About’ in blog drop down for project description.
The final work from this project will be exhibited at Penny Contemporary Gallery,187 Liverpool Street, Hobart, Tasmania on the 21st February 2014 http://www.pennycontemporary.com.au/
Outline of the project
This work is continuation of my interest into the constructed domestic environment, which can viewed at:
My previous work involved the creation of – tableaux of domestic environments with the addition of living subjects/models. In this project I have created two-dimensional people and taken them to the natural environment.
I am interested in the role that nature takes in our domestic homes, often taking the form of pictures, ornaments, souvenirs and calendars, with the odd house plant or fish tank offering a sense of authenticity. I am questioning this mentality, are we fantasising about golden sunsets and tropical rain forests to position ourselves closer to our animal heritage, responding to the ‘un natural’ four walls of the suburban domestic home. Is it a form of escapism and yearning or merely a decor trend replacing what once was the view from a real window?
The first thing I had to do was collect my ‘cut out’ people. My first thoughts were simply to remove people from their natural home environment, whilst doing a domestic chore, talking on the phone or having a bath. I then toyed with the idea of people in costumes/fancy dress or fantasy style attire. (like in a dream where you are suddenly in a bear costume in the woods,we all have those right?) My final choice was a combination of the two styles. I wanted to move away from the cliches and create a stilted version of a person caught in-between reality and fantasy, nature and the domestic.
My style of model recruitment is an organic process. I try to take advantage of opportunities as they arrive in terms of photographing visitors over for MOFO, pregnancy documentation, commercial shoots and my own family (unashamedly).
After completing the photo shoots of all the models I chose finals and looked at how they worked together, range of subjects etc.
When the portraits were finalised I sent the files away to Bond imaging who printed them onto adhesive vinyl which I then peeled and laminated them ontp plastic core flute. (This was much harder than I imagined, but was achieved with only a few bubbles, which were at least in unimportant parts of the figure ie not right in the middle of their nose.)
Once I had completed the construction of the figures, I had to finalise our journey around Tasmania. The idea for this project was first conceived during a previous project “Princess” which was a collaboration with MADE (Mature Artist Dance Experience) This project involved making large regal portraits of the performers as royalty infront of their land, which came down as drops in the Theatre Royal performance. http://vimeo.com/27959497
With this previous project experience, I was familiar with the types of landscapes I was interested in and the processes involved in taking a variety of landscapes over various terrains. Unlike the first road trip which involved my husband, myself our 3 and half year old and a 3 month year old in a caravan, we upscaled to shacks, motels and hotels and the children 4 years older.
Armed with ten cut outs, an itinerary my family and a good friend looking after our dog we hit the road.
First location was at a private shack at Brady’s lake
When I first began shooting I experience what many artist experience and that is pure panic. My main concern was logistically placing the cut outs in a convincing position that took advantage of the fact that they were inanimant objects ie they would not mind standing in water, in bushes on rocks etc. My first results were not outstanding and I started to question whether this technique would actually work. Or would it look like bad photoshop.
After a good night sleep, and a solution to the structure needed to position a cutout in the lake. (Wooden stake and rocks from the lake) I headed down to the lake while the family slept, around 5am. It was then I had my platypus moment which served to bring renewed confidence and enthusiasm to my project.
Having had little contact with wildlife until I moved to Tasmania over a decade ago I still am somewhat of a novice in terms of recognising tasmanian flora and fauna. So when I saw a moving line of water in the middle of the lake my first thoughts was a river snake (might not even exist), then a large trout, and finally I saw the bill and body of a platypus and it was magic. He/she worked her way towards me, performing flips/spins, a few metres away climbed up to the edge of the bank, then swam off. It was just me and nature and I suddenly understood what ‘the whole buzz was with nature and that’.
So then I continued on, actually starting to enjoy the process.
Next stop Mole Creek
I booked a cabin in Mole Creek because of is rural beauty and it was definately what I was expecting. Unlike my first experience of taking photos of tasmania landscapes this project involved a great deal more set up. This was considerably more difficult in this area, due to most of the area being private property. So it became a good pitstop to check on photos I had already taken. The accommodation also had a wildlife park next door which we took the family too after driving 20 minutes up the road only to realise it was actually next door to where we were staying. My second brush with nature was being handed a large wombat by a dreadlocked, crutchless, red long john wearing wildlife worker, who proceeded to inform me that he liked eating hair, which I then observed as it disappeared down the wombats throat, to which I then pulled out of his mouth, try not to dry reach in front of smiling children and tourists. He was great to hold despite this.
After picking the green bits of wombat vomit out of my hair we proceed to our next location, Avoka. This was a stop on the side of the road shoot, as we our next stop was a fair distance away from Mole Creek.
One of the important logistical characteristics of the locations chosen for this project was where and how the children could be entertained during shooting, by my fantastic husband. So we chose a rest stop near a duck pond/rivlulet. This spot was great it had a variety of vistas, water views, rural scenes and bull rushes and a big enough area for the kids to play soccer and feed the ducks.
During this stop my adrenalin was racing a bit more than on previous as the time was more limited and there was a traffic divided between the two areas I was shooting in. Jumping from one cut out in one area to another on the otherside of the road I managed to drop my moist valuable lense only to hear the smashing sound no photographer wants to hear. With the fear that the project may be extremely limited by the lack of this lense I looked down to only see a broken UV filter, well no UV filer is better than losing my most valuable lense.
Finished at Avoka and it was time for more road tripping. We headed to our next location, 4 Mile Creek. There was tension in the car, kids were tired and the promise of a pool at the next location was the only thing stopping a total mutany from the back seats. A completely explainable family dispute insued with such vitriol that the details now ellude me. This all was disfused quickly by the flicking lights and gesturing by a man in a work vehicle. We stopped and it he explained that he had witnessed cardboard cut outs flying down the street. Previous conversations were immediately forgotten and the guessing game of which cut out and where began. Did I mention it had started raining quite heavily.
Sorry no photo, too worried about the thought of all my cut out starting a new life in remote areas of Tasmania, that I didn’t document it.
So we then discovered ‘Hamish’, one of my cutout models floating down the highway. Amazingly no damage, we packed him back away, repaired our carrying arrangement, (added more gaff) and made our way to 4 Mile Creek. We proceeded to make a wrong turn into storm which kept our eldest quiet but extremely alert while our youngest slept soundly through major white noise. We realised our error went back through storm and finally found our next destination.
After our eventful entrance to this location I took advantage of a night off.
I got up early as this accomodation had the advantage of being directly in front of a beach. As ususal I was a bit early so my first round of photos were a bit too atmospheric (dark). I was using the rogue cutout that had got away on the road, as I took it as a sign and it was perfect for this figure. It was one of my most favourite shoots.
Next stop Dunes in St Helens
Then Big Lagoon
The Dunes and Lagoons were my last two shoots, the main theme to these locations was that it would take three rejected sights to find the ‘one’. A combination of slight sleep deprivation and tantrums, us not the kids meant that either our decision making skill were slightly askew or we knew it was the last few shoots so we had to make it good. Probably a combination of both.
Thanks for reading, I plan to post the final artworks after my exhibition in February.
Penny Contemporary Gallery,187 Liverpool Street, Hobart, Tasmania, on the 21st February 2014
My other work can be seen at