PLAYING FIELD

Jennifer Bartholomew, Anika Cook, Anna Davern, Michael Doolan, Bern Emmerichs, Tim Fleming, Greer Honeywill, Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison, Ben Pearce, David Ray
Thursday 5th of August – Saturday 4th of September, 2010
An exhibition curated by Joe Pascoe, CEO & Artistic Director Craft Victoria
Galleries 1 + 2, Craft Victoria, 31 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Part of Craft Victoria's annual Craft Cubed festival

 

For our part in the exhibition Playing Field and in addition to the artists' book, Sleeping during the day, we made five prints especially related to the theme of Childhood.

Gracia Haby & Louise Jennison
From this bed, with the wings of a bird, I flew to the sea as I slept last night (II)
2010
Four-colour lithographic offset print, collage and pencil on Aquarelle Arches 100% pure cotton 300gsm hot-press paper
Edition of 15, printed by Redwood Prints

Gracia Haby & Louise Jennison
Tiny as a soul, there comes the rabbit
There are cities one will not see again
Moving forward in the way of all things
We recognise this scene set, with its moon above and stars left on

2010
Four-colour lithographic offset print on Fabriano bright-white 300gsm hot-press paper
Each an edition of 15, printed by Redwood Prints

 

(A part of the) Playing Field catalogue essay
Joe Pascoe, CEO & Artistic Director Craft Victoria
2010

Similarly Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison lift off the flat plane to elevate their images using magical tricks and puzzles, with each conjunction opening a shaped door into a new world. Digital techniques are used to scour thousands of worlds, splicing, editing and constructing data files which are then very carefully printed into new icons — just like the brain does with its memories.

The circularity of the research and reward process speaks to the special character of the crafts, where process often informs the end content. It is an opposite of post-modernism, as the adventure leads the viewer to a confirmed, sure place, however subtle and shadowy to define. The ultimate source material is that place in the mind, where childhood and strange new emotions are born.

Haby and Jennison recognise that the nascent origin of a journey or story is often the chance association of an event within a convincing emotion envelope of a particular place and time. It is more a Jean Jacques Rousseau realm, where order is questioned and yet the underlying social contract remains somehow intact — pledged as it is to safety and individuality.

To read their pictures, just pretend you are one of the curious animals in the frame!

Gracia Haby & Louise Jennison, From this bed, with the wings of a bird, I flew to the sea as I slept last night, 2010, lithographic offset print, and Sleeping during the day, 2010, artists' book, exhibited as part of Playing Field, Craft Victoria

Gracia Haby & Louise Jennison, four lithographic offset prints exhibited as part of Playing Field, Craft Victoria, 2010

 

Meet Some of the Artists Featured in 'Playing Field', Craft Cubed's Childhood Inspired Exhibition
Lee Tran Lam, deputy chief sub-editor
Inside Out
11th August, 2010


Were you creative when you were a kid?
We both were — like many, like all — creative as kids. We drew constantly, making up fantastical worlds populated entirely by mice (me) or of some weird invention, building or place (Louise). Louise tells me she would build enormous villages from Lego, with her brother Gordon, that covered the entire floor. I, when not drawing, spent time sewing costumes for toys and making creatures from felt and wool.

When you were given this theme of 'childhood and playtime' for the exhibition, did you draw on your own past or did you look on the childhood of kids you currently know as inspiration?
We drew largely upon our own, before sprinkling the dish — the various collage pieces — with red herrings, added to taste. There are elements drawn directly from both actual childhood days and elements selected for similarity in feel.

There is a tiny white rabbit seated at a table surrounded by three foxes eager to know him better (in our print Tiny as a soul, there comes the rabbit), and there is a girl riding an ostrich through Venice (in our print Moving forward in the way of all things). These are all the kinds of scenarios one dreams up as a child. These are all the kind of scenarios one, equally, dreams up today.

There are French-speaking animals throughout, characters from the Ballet Russes, and in one work, There are cities one will not see again, new cities that resemble both Cairo and Brittany are entwined together. In our new artists' book, Sleeping during the day, there are hares and rabbits and seahorses escaping as — in the distance — a volcano erupts, and Neptune enters the room by way of a passageway concealed as a fireplace. There are collaged elements from books we read as children and characters from an Aesop fable as illustrated by Arthur Rackham. There is Tom Thumb in there, too. It is fun to dream up these scenarios, to make anything possible, to move our characters about on a giant paper stage.

What's one thing about childhood that you're not nostalgic about at all?
Looking back, it all reads well — though I do not miss dragging my guitar along the ground as I walked to school, consequently wearing a large hole in its base. Nor do I miss playing team sports. Louise does not miss being encouraged to eat certain foods at teatime — brussel sprouts and spinach being the main offenders. Nor does she miss having to keep a tidy room.

 
 

Gracia Haby, with Dixie

Perhaps, like the collaborative duo Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison, you could unbridle your imagination and create endless fantasy worlds in which multi-coloured fish fly.
(From the essay This is something that happens by Phip Murray for Playing Field)