c3 Projects presents
TORIE NIMMERVOLL – JASON MALING – JESS HOOD – VIVIAN COOPER SMITH
SIMON MACEWAN – TRUDY MOORE
Curated by Jon Butt
Created for the 2011 Abbotsford Convent Open Day
November 11th 12 – 6pm
Seven artists are given access to a mass of archival images documenting the Convent from 1890 to 2004 and asked to make works that create a link between the moment in the photograph and the present day. The photographs in the collection show not only the passing of time but the way a physical space can represent the thoughts and visions of each generation that inhabited the Convent.
This project is commissioned by c3 as part of an ongoing documentation of the Abbotsford Convent site, becoming part of an annually created collection of works.
Whilst sitting through the slideshow to select our images, what appealed to me was the fact these people in the past once stood in these same grounds that we still stomp on today, the history of people in this space.
I have made moulding and casts of pieces of the land of where (in my selected photos) these people once stood.
My work responds to a set of photographs of the courtyard garden at the centre of the Convent building. This garden is presented in a series of photographs, taken by me, that record its structure in the present, installed as transparency images alongside hand drawn reinterpretations of archival photographs. The viewer is encouraged to visit the actual garden, highlighting the idea of it as an archival marker similar to the photograph or memory itself.
This image draws a deliberate focus to the architecture of the courtyard, evoking a sense of perspective and depth. I have used paper and charcoal to take a three-dimensional rubbing of one the still-existing columns recorded in the photograph.
Through this process-based work I am tracing the surface and structure of the object, adhering to the notions of memory and record commonly associated with the medium of photography. The empty, shell-like sculpture evokes a sense of absence and emptiness, while it’s positioning within a contemporary gallery context explores ideas of change and displacement.
In developing this project, I was interested in the idea of how we archive a place with so much loaded history. Things are constantly being removed from this site; whether it be the traces of the Good Shepherd’s presence (statues, icons, gravesites), elements of the architecture from La Trobe University’s days and even entire buildings and structures. There is also a sense that parts of the history are not spoken about and the buildings are full of scars – both architectural and emotional.
I found some of the slides taken during La Trobe’s time here and although they were used as simple documentation of abandoned rooms, to me they are full of implied mystery and loss.
Responding to the image of children taking part in a musical performance, I have used the existing fireplace to create a miniature theatre where one audience member at a time may experience the somber spectacle in a supplicant pose.
VIVIAN COOPER SMITH
The Abbotsford Convent’s grotto built on the banks of the Yarra, provided a place for solitude, contemplation and prayer. Washed away in the 1934 flood it has never been replaced and is a reminder of the strength of nature and the transience of life. In a society priding itself on continuous activity and relentless pursuit of commercial gain it is worth reflecting on the disappearance of these places of stillness and meditation.
I have chosen archival images that chart the use, and disappearance of the grotto while a new photograph of the area as it is today completes the installation.
The archive image space collapses and folds into the real space. The inhabitants are gone but their shadows persist. All that remains is the structure and a decision to look in a particular direction.
Information about the images used in works 1, 5 and 6 in this exhibition and life at the Good Shepherd Convent, Abbotsford, can be found in the volume by Catherine Kovesi, Pitch Your Tents on Distant Shores, published 2006 / 2010.
This project was commissioned by c3 as part of an ongoing documentation of the Abbotsford Convent site and will become part of an annually created collection of works.
Special thanks to:
Fraser Faithful, archivist at The Good Shepherd
The Good Shepherd
The Abbotsford Convent Foundation