Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fragments Of Myself Set Free

Lately, I've been thinking about future works.
I've been labelled an erotic artist. Occasionally, I've embraced that but the description is an over-simplification – and not really true. In recent years, I've depicted aspects of human sexuality in various media but it has had more to do with exploring identity – my own and that of other young women in the post-feminist era – and with it, sexual identity and the freedom not only to express it but to act upon it. However, I'm currently working on what will probably be my last series of works in which the imagery is graphically, self-referentially sexual.
I'm already exploring somehting completely different: simple (in fact, quite primitive) situational works using natural media and hand-made objects. The underlying ideas in these link to the Voodoo-inspired watercolours of Venus In Hell using daubed veves (symbols of the various Loas or spirits), dolls, curse bags, graffiti and fetishes, as well as hand-sewn maps, carved or stacked stones, handmade bracelets with antique beads and embroidered pieces made with 'found' materials. The ideas have parallels with Andy Goldsworthy's temporary works in nature but are more rooted in the spiritual, even the magical, as well as the intensely personal.
The truth is, I've been making these kinds of things, without thinking much about it, since I was a kid. In the beginning, I used leaves, twigs, grass, bark, rocks, and flowers. But the pieces I made were not about nature. The process of making them was an attempt to actualize some dream or desire or fill a spiritual or emotional void. I imagined that I was creating a fragment of a different future as I made each object. Later, I would burn them or put them on a creek to float away until they disintegrated or sank. In deliberately losing them this way,, I believed the simple dream fetish I created could be set free and become real.
Later, as an urban teenager, I made pieces from objects found in op' shops or around my mother's house. During a very difficult time, I made a small suitcase, which I carried everywhere with me. It was red, made of card, and I kept my personal things in there, separate from my schoolwork. On it, I glued a newspaper photograph of the planet Venus, a ball of garishly vivid, detailed flames. My handwriting covered the image, too small for others to read: juvenile mantras to remind an insecure girl to love herself and to be strong as she underwent an isolated, painful transition into womanhood. Again, the case ended up being sacrificed and set free – I donated it back to an op' shop.
Maybe I'll do the same with these new works – make them then set them free somehow. It'd make a welcome change from making art for money.


Lisa Rasmussen said...

Hazel.. love this direction or resurrection. The phoenix is rising....

3brainer said...


Sounds like you're turning over a new (or old) leaf and what a great new direction!
You wrote:
"But the pieces I made were not about nature. The process of making them was an attempt to actualize some dream or desire or fill a spiritual or emotional void."

I wonder... are our spiritual and emotional selves and voids not our natural selves? Isn't nature by nature spiritual?

Just food for thought. I am always interested in the way we humans think of ourselves, our drives, our progress, our efforts and dreams as somehow distinct from nature and the natural world.

Can't wait to see your new work!