I spent three weeks of January in Kandos to do an artist residency at Kandos Projects. This was my first residency, and I came to Kandos without any preconceived notions of what work I would make during my stay, allowing a space for new ideas to come forth. In total, three projects were manifested during this time, including the installation Four Monochromes, the photographic series Orange, and the beginnings of a series of non-objective digital prints made using emoji.
Four Monochromes was an installation I designed for the Kandos Projects site, and it was a response to the building’s history as a haberdashery store. During my stay, I wrote this about the work:
The site that now occupies Kandos Projects was once a haberdashery store, and one of the two oldest surviving stores of its kind in New South Wales according to Ann Finegan (the other was a sandstone building located in the nearby town of Rylstone). The front of the building prominently features four glass display cabinets, and we can assume that these showcased an array of products available from the haberdashery store at the time it was active. Much attention would be devoted to the arrangement of objects within these vitrines as they were spaces designed to advertise their merchandise in the hopes of attracting sales. Now used to display artworks, the vitrines no longer need to serve the same function they were built for, and yet they still retain their original functionality.
I have produced a work to occupy these vitrines conscious of this juxtaposition. Titled Four Monochromes, each window has been fitted with toys purchased from three stores located in Kandos (the Community Charity Store, Vinnies and the Tip Shop), arranged into four groups of colours (pink, yellow, blue and green). The toys are at home in the context of the display store windows, and for the two-week duration of their exhibition, revive the historical context of a site; a resurrection of an era gone-by through the use of objects sourced in the present from the surrounding locality). The arrangement of the objects according to colour is reminiscent of the practice of Tony Cragg, but my interest lies less in creating new formalist composition than it does in teasing out the formalist elements inherent in everyday things.
As well as establishing equivalence, grouping objects together based on colour is a technique I employ to bring us closer in touch with the presence of each individual item. It has been a fascinating opportunity to sit in the Kandos Project building and, hiding out-of-sight, be able to listen to the conversations of onlookers, many of whom immediately identify the four groups of colours before slowly observing each separate element. My eavesdropping continued for a few weeks, picking up on snippets of conversation including a surly man joke to another that it, “Looks like ‘The Teddy Bears’ Picnic’ has arrived.” Indeed, the ability for children (and ex-children) to engage with this work rests in the familiarity of these objects and the simplicity of their arrangement. Perhaps my favourite thing I overheard was by a small boy who said, “Pink. Yellow. Blue. Green. That’s it!” Indeed, as I was reading Russell Hoban’s The Turtle Diary on my residency, it was his mention of the thisness and thisonlyness of matter that reminded me of what it is I want to be able to show as an artist.
I enjoyed my encounters with the community, including the enthusiastic and helpful lady at the Tip Shop, who gave me a good price on the toys on the condition that I would supply her with a photo of the installation that she could hang in her shop, as well as the ladies at the Community Charity Store, who very patiently allowed me to look through all their toys and whom later commented on how much they enjoyed the colourful display.
I had commented during my residency at Kandos Projects that I had wanted to be an interior designer when I was younger, and that later in life when I went to art school, I discovered that installation art was a medium for me to explore this earlier interest of mine. By working directly in a haberdashery store window, I fulfil this youthful prophecy, acting at once as artist and window dresser.
As site-specific works, I like that these monochromatic installations were exclusively crafted from a material derived from Kandos itself. The redistribution of this materiality back to its original source ends my temporary revival of the haberdashery store, leaving it bare and empty, full of potential for a new display. And back at the Community Charity Store, Vinnes and the Tip Shop, the toys sit back on their shelves, waiting amongst all the others to be singled out and purchased, taken back home and into someone’s life.
One day during the second week of my residency at Kandos Projects, I decided to drive to Orange, the small city in New South Wales, to see if I would find anything of the colour orange. I photographed 50 discoveries and I plan to collate these in the form of an artist book for Cementa in 2015.
I began work on some new digital prints, following the two series of 8-bit computer generated graphics in the style of the Commodore 64 I completed in 2011 and 2013. The new prints I have started working on are text generated graphics using characters from the Apple Color Emoji typeface, modelled on the non-objective graphics of the previous series I completed.
I had the opportunity to catch up on a lot of reading while I was in Kandos, and managed to read Wake Up to What You Do by Diane Rizzetto, parts of Zen and Japanese Culture by D.T. Suzuki, The Turtel Diary, a novel by Russell Hoban, and a delightful paper on the haiku poet Takahama Kyoshi written by Katsuya Hiromoto.
I spent a lot of time walking, riding and driving through the area and nearby towns. During my stay I visited Rylstone, Mudgee, Gulgong, Sofala, Bathurst and Orange. I documented parts of my travels through the occasional iPhone photo, compiling these online at: http://adrianclement.vsco.co
Lastly, I also managed to find nine blue cars to add to my ongoing photographic series Ten Thousand Blue Cars, expanding the location of the project to include Kandos, Rylstone, Mudgee, Gulgong and Orange. These can be viewed online at: http://tenthousandbluecars.com