"I CAN’T explain why, but I knew I had to create something for this exhibition, even though, my study and other commitments have stopped me from entering art shows recently.” Yzabela Dior.
“I haven’t been doing much painting recently, but the thought of entering such an important exhibition has given me the incentive to get back to it.” Bea Miller.
I haven’t spoken to many of the artists about the ClimArt exhibition. Some of the artists’ names are new to me, and I still haven’t met Yzabela. Her words, above, come from a phone conversation.
My interest in her work was sparked by an email about the installation that she is entering in the show. “The message is that us as current generation need to preserve the most care in balancing our activities on earth to ... keep the new generation alive ... to be able to breathe ... when that balance is upset the child may no longer be able to breathe.”
And her words to me, "The base of my installation is square because square represents basic shape, just as climate change is a basic truth", showed the deep thought involved in her creation.
When deciding on an art show about climate change as Groundswell Bass Coast’s next event, we hoped for three things:
- Artists would be encouraged to think about climate change and interpret their thoughts in various new pieces they might not have produced without the impetus of the exhibition.
- People for whom climate change was not foremost in their minds would attend the exhibition and consider its implications.
- Some exciting, original pieces of work would be produced.
From the words of Yzabela and Bea, I know the first aim has been exceeded. Hopefully, the second aim will also be achieved. As for the third aim, I have been overwhelmed by the standard of the creations and the variety of ideas.
The only performance piece that I have read (apart from my own entries) is by local author Joan Woods. I have been friends with Joan for about seven years and always enjoy hearing or reading her work. Her ClimArt entry is so heartfelt and expressive and captures the theme so well that I needed time to myself after reading it so that I could recover from its impact. We speak of oil wars but imagine:
In blistering heat
water wars of unspeakable thirst
in Ethiopia, Israel, in Saudi Arabia
water so precious, oil cleans the floor.
From “Name Calling”, by Joan Woods.
Much of Ray’s work is about ocean acidification: how the carbon dioxide that we put into the air also makes the ocean acidic. “This is tragic for all sea animals with shells or bones and is an important theme in many of my paintings,” Ray says. “Science has made its statement about climate change. Artists must express their reaction to the warming planet as well.” When visitors come to his studio, they are shocked that a gentle painting can have a frightening undertone.
I proposed the art show idea to Groundswell Bass Coast a few years ago, but we had so many other event proposals at that stage that it was put on the backburner. I brought it up again last year and the time was right. Richard Kentwell and I would form a subcommittee and organise the show. We approached ArtSpace Wonthaggi, who were keen to partner us. That part went well. But then the planning started.
Richard and I both had experience in organising forums but not art shows. A few years ago, Groundswell had invited comedian Rod Quantock to present a show around climate change which packed out the Union Theatre in Wonthaggi. A major success. I had also arranged bus tours for the Creative Gippsland Festival. So with forums, theatre promotion and bus tour organisation as starting points, surely an art show would not be too challenging. Famous last words!
We looked at entry forms from other art shows and followed the format. Mistake. These forms did not ask for contact information as entrants were all members of the organisation, so we did not think to ask for it. No worries. We decided we would probably not need to contact the artists before the show.
We listed the email address for entries as email@example.com. Work started arriving for which we couldn’t find any paperwork. The money had been paid into the bank, so where were the forms? Ursula solved the puzzle; the email should have been firstname.lastname@example.org (Can you spot the difference? It stares at me now.) So if you are reading this and have submitted your entry form to the wrong address, please send it directly to me at email@example.com. We will work things out when all the entries arrive.
I had omitted to give the close-off date for submitting work, which is by 2pm on Monday, April 17. I hope that will not cause too much of a headache as many artists have contacted us about that, or have already dropped off their work.
I hope ClimArt becomes an annual event. I have learnt a great deal about planning an art show. We have been presented with some mind-expanding entries. The show has set many people thinking more about climate change and it still hasn’t started. I hope many people attend and come away overawed. It may further their thinking about climate change, maybe even encouraging them to become more active in that area. Despite some frustrations, I am so glad we decided to organise the show.
To find out more about Groundswell Bass Coast, contact Pauline Taylor, firstname.lastname@example.org, 0415 721 439 or 5952 5485.