Continuing our farewells – or more likely see you soons – to our ArtKeeper Artists, Michelle Le Plastrier is next to share a final update before embarking on her next big journey.
Michelle’s aim was always to combine art and community as part of her creative process to imagine possible futures. Bringing Gold Coasters together for fun collage workshops about evolutionary adaptations to climate change, the heavy topic felt more approachable and less intimidating. Creating an open environment led the way for creative solutions to novel problems, with thoughts and ideas flowing freely from those joining her.
As a result of these workshops, further research and much conversation, Michelle realised that her focus may need expand and find a different lens to meet her goal.
Tackling a complex topic with warmth, openness and a whole lot of colour, Michelle gave us a final check-in on her time in the ArtKeeper Program.
#Checking Out with Michelle Le Plastrier
You know the drill. 10 words or less – sum up the experience.
MLP: Massive in-depth, expansion of concept through community, conversation and reflection.
How has your project evolved since your original proposal?
MLP: The work was always looking at imagined futures and has now evolved and looks through a different lens, speaking to impacts beyond climate change.
At the beginning of the project when I was looking at the data and researching the ways in which flora and fauna were being affected or positioned into critically endangered status, it became apparent that discussing climate change alone could be oversimplifying the story. Things like overdevelopment, excess consumption and overarching societal priority shifts were a big part of the story too. Through this research, the workshops we ran and many conversations the concept evolved to look beyond just the impacts of climate change. I wanted to tell this newly developed story by imagining ‘The next 80’s’. Using retrofuturism aesthetics as a device to highlight the variance between our previous expectations of the future (1980’s) and our current reality, hypothesizing new trajectories for the future (2080). Exploring the interconnectedness between progression, and the regressive symptoms of these advancements. For example, our shortened attention spans and fragmented thinking born from the way we use technology and consume information. Or advancements in convenience tied to overconsumption and pollution.
Realizing that the positive and negative can not necessarily be extrapolated from one another and these systems are precariously holding up our current way of life. Considering questions like; Is this what we imagined life would be like? Have we come further than we imagined? Are we progressing in an unstable manner? Are there advancements we never even dreamed of? Are we equipped to keep up with rapid change?
The work presents the perspective of optimism and pessimism (or perhaps realism) through the story of these imagined futures. Inviting the viewer to consider our tomorrow. Do they feel hopeful? Have they realized they need to effect change?
Beyond being supported with the time and space to create, what other parts of the program, or working at HOTA, have been the most useful or interesting to you as an Artist? What effect did this have on you/your practice/process/project?
MLP: I don’t think there is enough space for me to truly say how valuable I think this experience was, in so many ways. Having a space as a central hub to have meetings or more informal catch ups. Expanding networks through fellow artists and making connections when other colleagues bring artists and key stakeholders on site. Having access to the wealth of knowledge and experience of the HOTA team. Seeing the internal workings of the programming and curatorial teams making it easier to understand how artists can work with these institutions. Mentorship and provocations from Wesley Enoch pushing my work further and honing in on themes. Conversations that would contribute to my overall outlook on being an artist, storytelling and success. Wesley has an incredible mind and is generous with his ideas and advice, I am so honoured to have spent time with him and absorbed some of his wisdom. It’s been such a positive experience with HOTA and they truly put their money where their mouth is when it comes to making this a true Home of the Arts. Their championing of the role of artists as essential is so admirable and I believe has really fostered growth in the Gold Coast artist community. A ripple effect that will only grow and allow for the Gold Coast to be a forerunner in the Arts nationally.
What are the next steps for this body of work, and for you as an Artist, after ArtKeeper?
MLP: So many plans! The first plan is to finish the work and continue to pitch it to galleries nationally as their callouts happen over the course of the year. The concept has already gone out to a gallery in Sydney. The research that was undertaken throughout this time has definitely shifted my practice and put into place new considerations about the creative process. This has been a formative experience that will shape the direction of my practice for some time. There is so much more I can continue to draw on and discuss with the concept that would not have evolved without this program. Then the next step is to keep up the sustainability of my practice post-ArtKeeper, so I will be working with a local artist to develop some work with assistance of moulds to be able to create pieces more seamlessly in a time effective way. I also have a few upcoming workshops that I will be facilitating on the Gold Coast and Brisbane. In April I will be presenting workshops with Artisan QLD and a few others in the pipeline which I am excited to share soon.