Distant connections to the here and now


 

In Amanda Bishop’s short film Travelling Memories the romantic vision of travel and the promise of change is depicted in black and white. Hand written letters, an old car, and a reappearing suitcase suggest a journey, yet the time and place is far from now. Through this staged vision we are invited to explore the artist’s imagined memory of a point in history she too, has never seen.

It is these ideas of journey, memory, history and connectivity, explored through creative practice and teaching and learning principles, which underpin the new exhibition Distant Connections at Chifley Home and Education Centre in Bathurst.

Nineteen distance education students from Charles Sturt University, studying to become specialist secondary visual arts teachers, were invited to produce artwork based on an object which referenced the Chifley era.

Varied in approach and intent, the work in this exhibition speaks broadly about the resonance between objects and our relationship to past and present.

Based in regional and separate locations, the artists reflected on the Chifley Home collection and sought connections to their immediate environment. Some artists examined the changes in the domestic space, Lisa Gasparotto for example, exploring the lack of electricity and the requisite ‘make-do’ simplicity of domestic life. Melissa Goodall’s Home Duties and Kylie Bowle’s Heart of the Home highlighted the changes in the female role within the home. While Rebecca Geach sought to illuminate the interpersonal connections between Elizabeth and Ben Chifley. For others, the action of looking back meant reflecting on personal histories. Kylie Searl’s Frugal Treasures presents a catalogued suitcase-sized museum of her father’s personal belongings assembled in the fashion of sculptor, Joseph Cornell.

Varied in approach and intent, the work in this exhibition speaks broadly about the resonance between objects and our relationship to past and present. It also demonstrates the benefits of learning and understanding our collective pasts from a myriad of perspectives.

The exhibition explores how separate entities within a community, such as a historic site and an education provider, previously having little in common, can come together to form new synergies and associations, resulting in not only a joint catalyst for artistic creation but a platform for the generation of entrepreneurial civic and creative learning.

 

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