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A blank canvas for local artists

1 Jul 2018

At HOTA we’re always looking for opportunities for local artists. Our latest commission, affectionately known as the Duchamp Wall Commission (yes, it’s on a wall near a male toilet,) provides a blank canvas for local artists to create site-specific, temporary artwork and to extend their own practice.

The visibility and location of this wall and its proximity to the Gallery allow for a challenging temporary artwork to be created. Emotional Wall with Everything Else by Agatha Goethe Snape was installed in 2017 and highlighted how the space could be used.

We’re handing this canvas over to local Indigenous artist Libby Harward, who’ll be the first to take up the challenge of creating something special in this space.

A descendant of the Nughi people of Quandamooka (Moreton Bay), Libby Harward is an inspiring artist who has participated in the recent South Stradbroke Island Artist Camp and resulting exhibition. She also featured in the Festival 2018 program during the Commonwealth Games.

Her art practice explores relationships and connection with people, country and culture. She uses her personal history of acceptance and change to inspire and mentor others to contribute to social and personal change.

She has worked extensively in the community sector gaining specialist skills in working with marginalized young people. She’s worked on projects in communities across Queensland, The Northern Territory and in the Torres Strait, as an arts worker coordinator and trainer on a broad range of projects, predominantly with young people using theatre and visual arts. We’ve been lucky enough to have her run ArtLab and look forward to the next workshops she is planning, dates to come.

The Duchamp Wall

The piece that Libby is planning for the Duchamp Wall is called ‘Evacuation Tone’ and is an extension of her current body of work ‘Already Occupied͟.’

Libby told us: ‘Already Occupied is an ongoing contemporary art project that explores Aboriginal sovereignty through the use of everyday signage – such as those used for traffic control. The project employs humour, language and materiality to spark conversations about Country and my connection to it.

Already Occupied recodes signs of construction/destruction and safety to privilege an Aboriginal frame of reference. Already Occupied uses hi-vis to reveal a language which has always occupied this continent. In this series of work Ochre and mud converse with fluorescent polymers in acts of wayfinding, as star pickets, concrete, road cones, polyester, twine and road signs are code-switched to speak of the relationship between exploited land and the material from which colonialism is constructed, turning the tools of occupation into a vocabulary of resistance.

I use this sign language to make temporary interventions on country that translate the embodied knowing of performance into a gestural syntax of sovereign listening. Already Occupied has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.’

Evacuation Tone

‘Evacuation Tone recodes the gallery context to privilege an Aboriginal frame of reference it uses humour to highlight an intercultural conversation that I see happening within the space. A conversation about safety and dominant ways of seeing and the confused ‘woop woop’ dance that happens when white Australia is challenged to evacuate from Aboriginal business. In a jovial way, I also make space for” men’s business’ just as my matriarchal ancestors have done before me. These ideas have been developed in consultation with my community, my own family elders, my Goori peers and traditional owners of the Bundall area’ said Libby.

Evacuation Tone will remain on the wall until February 2019, around 6 months, before being painted over for the next artist to begin afresh.

We love welcoming artists to our home (and letting them paint on the walls) and we’re proud of the distinctive creativity and innovation that’s found in our local artistic community.

We hope that people will enjoy seeing a piece of art brought to life and are inspired by the result.

We can’t wait to see the artwork unfold.