My Winston Churchill Fellowship Research took me to Japan, China and Turkey to investigate the origins or (as I put it) the space hidden within the ancient patterns of these cultures. By space I mean:
– physical space (scale, depth, color, dimension, composition)
– non-physical space (accumulated knowledge through history; belief, meaning and intention; culture and way of life; nature and need; technology and local materials; the individual maker’s touch, and contribution)
– and the space of experience (built environment or architecture) in which the patterns are experienced as part of a greater whole.
Therefore my research was very rich and multi-layered, as my focus encompassed not only art, design and architecture but also the essence of the places visited and people met.
Looking through my photographs of the intricate carpets, engravings, metalwork, carving, mosaics, ceramics, and textiles from each of the places I visited, one can only be inspired by the craftsmen and the objects of their making. When you experience them first hand you can feel their life and energy and see the imperfect marks made by their hands. The small discreet deviations from the ordered structure and repetition of the patterns made them human and importantly showed the mark of the individual in the transmission of stories, beliefs and skills from generation to generation, across materials, processes and culture.
Materials and colors are of the place. They stem from the original natural environment of the time. The artefacts were made from these materials by people out of need in their everyday lives. The primitive patterns experienced record ancient man’s connection and dependence on nature and season. The meaning of the motifs, colors and significance of a pattern subtly vary from country to country, workshop to workshop, and artisan to artisan. There is a strong relation between purpose, material, and technique with place, and the realized form of the patterns.
The relationship between nature, making and beliefs in each of the countries was paramount to understanding their patterns. In Japan in particular patterns were based in simplicity, subtlety and beauty. Within the objects of their craft they ritually captured and used materials and processes that revealed the transient nature of their life and surroundings (the passing of seasons, light in the morning, a spider’s web under a new moon). This revealed their deep understanding of the imperfect and impermanent qualities of space and objects with the passing of time and through nature’s forces.
One of my key recommendations that came out of my research was to Foster further research and practice that reflects our own Australian natural environment and identity through our history, native materials, process and way of life. My exhibition entitled TRACE at Pin-up Project Space in Melbourne, was an opportunity to Explore these concepts in a series of new studies.
Trace maps and connects the underlying conceptual ideas that thread through the practice of Brisbane-based architect and artist Christina Waterson. By physically surveying the origins of her work, the new collection embodies a 3-dimensional ‘trace’, sketch or echo of past trajectories. A softening of material and a simplification of line results in Waterson’s return to essential forms and qualities. Like a stone smoothed by the tidal waters of the ocean, sharp lines soften to tactile curves and arabesques. A palette of materials that range from rubber, leather and felt resonate with a return to artisan values within the traditions of leatherwork, sewing, beading and macramé. A collection of work within the exhibition is informed by Waterson’s recent Winston Churchill Fellowship Research experiences… extract from Trace Exhibition Floor Sheet
The main body of text within this post includes key extracts from my Winston Churchill Fellowship Report.