Saturday, September 18, 2010

Q&A with Minka Gillian

Tulips, 2008, polyester monofiliment, wire, perspex, 94 x 50 x 65cm

Your choice of methods and materials is rather unorthodox for a contemporary artist, is there an element of environmental concern, personal health, economic or practicality that led you to choose these, or is it more of a conceptual concern?

Growing up my mother had very serious allergies to almost everything therefore I lived in a house without plastics or new products that could give off  harmful chemicals, so viewed plastic as toxic and repellant. Using natural and second hand material was then a very obvious choice for me coupled with the poverty of being a student. The last two years of Uni brought many changes in my life a major one being the improvement of my mother’s health, many of her allergies disappeared after the treatment of an undiagnosed illness, plastics were no longer such a taboo and I felt less tied down by the past. My attraction to used objects was partially the history that I feel is imbued in old or used objects that I feel adds a richness to my work.

I introduced fishing line into my work to get a glass like quality. The transparency of the material enables me to explore more complicated internal forms while allowing these forms to layer over each other and still be read from the outside. The less forgiving nature of synthetic material has also challenged me to focus on the technique and form.

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 was slow to see the potential for weaving as an artistic medium, partly because of the snobbery I felt towards basketry as an art form. It took until my 3rd year of Uni to realize I could incorporate weaving into my work. At the beginning I was caught up in the intricacy of weaving and made small, precious objects as my skill and confidence grew so did my work. However I am often frustrated by the slowness and limitations of my art form but am too reluctant to relinquish any control over the outcome to outsource any of my work at the moment. This may become a necessity as my work grows in size and complexity.

'Tulips' 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.

Minka Gillian 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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