Friday, September 10, 2010

Q&A with Bridie Connell...

Installation shot: Hanky Panky Fiction

Bridie Connell, Kiss Me Quick, 2010, vintage
handkerchief, cotton embroidery, 26 x 26cm

Where and when did you discover the expressive qualities of your medium and how did you learn the skills required to make the work?

I grew up in an artistic home and it was always understood that I would attend art school however the patriarchal painting department I found myself in never really suited me. Turning to my mother’s collection of 70s craft journals and embroidery magazines for inspiration, I began to teach myself various home craft techniques and adapt them to satisfy my conceptual concerns.

You recycle and reinvent domestic objects, does the material come first and then the idea, or do you seek out the materials and methods to suit the concept?

I’m attracted to the awkward beauty of everyday objects and situations and my work combines personal and fictional narratives with a good dose of dark humour, to explore representations of women and femininity in art and popular culture. Often this is expressed through the subversive and nostalgic use of maternally inherited objects and ‘women’s crafts.’

Hanky Panky Fiction is a series of personalised 1950s and vintage handkerchiefs hand embroidered with the titles and tag lines from men’s adventure novels (pulp fiction publications) from the same era. The series is a playful investigation of female stereotypes and role-play in fantasy and in reality, contrasting the 1950s housewife with the pulp fiction bombshell – ideals which have been popularised by both genders for their ‘retro’ sex appeal – through the embellishment of delicately pretty, yet functional objects designed to get dirty.

Bridie Connell's 'Hanky Panky Fiction' series is currently being exhibited as part of META4; a group exhibition of four Sydney artists, all of whom harness techniques that are traditionally associated with women’s handiwork and craft to express, to challenge and sometimes to parody the concepts and psyche behind gender stereotyping, femininity and domesticity. Exhibition runs 1 September - 2 October 2010.

Bridie Connell will also be a part of 'Hands On', a survey of Australian contemporary artists whose primary mode of production is usually assosciated with home crafts. Curated by Cash Brown, this exhibition can be seen at Hazelhurst Regional Gallery from 4 December, 2010.

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