As energy, the paint does not restrict itself to my process, and our dialogue has turned to the form of a shared ecology—Georgina Pollard (Artist Statement, A-M Gallery)
Georgina Pollard is an artist who works with reclaimed house-paint as a weaving or sculpting material. With a background in theatre, Pollard finds a relationship between theatre philosophy and paint—in the way that paint can take on a life of its own in process—like an object or prop in a stage performance. When Pollard is responsive to paint in this way, the art-object she makes is a kind of record, or transcription, of the gestural dialogue she has shared with paint, in context of place and time. Pollard describes her work as highly self-aware. Gestures, action and reactions in drips, drops, lines and layers express subjects in process: paint becoming-subject and an identity in flux with/in a shared ecology.
Pollard is co-founder of Cementa Arts Festival, with artists Alex Wisser and Ann Finegin. Cementa is a contemporary visual arts festival held in Kandos, regional New South Wales (inland from Sydney, toward Mudgee). Since 2013, the festival has been held biannually, and has achieved giving regional and city-based practising artists the opportunity to experiment with their proposed material or text in a landscape very different to the urban experience. At the heart of Cementa is the idea that artist-shared spaces are naturally generative.
The festival facilitates bringing artists together, and making more things happen—especially in the region. Clandulla State Forest, for example, opened as Clandulla State Gallery to exhibit The Survey Show (2014), curated by Margaret Roberts. Along a winding track through the state forest, visitors experienced artworks made for the bush setting. Pollard exhibited in this group show with her work Chandelier for Ants (2014), a branch painted with toffee, made to disintegrate as ants swarmed and consumed the artwork.
Pollard’s collection of recent solo shows—Through Line (2011; A-M Gallery, Sydney), Through Line II (2012; At the Vanishing Point Gallery, Sydney) and Through Line III (2014; A-M Gallery)—are named after Stanislavsky’s description of characterisation. A ‘through line’, according to Stanislavsky, links character objectives, irreducible to the performance or narrative. Through lines can be interwoven with other through lines, including the ‘lines’ of props and other elements of stage design. The performance as a whole is a network of through lines, and, in the sense of being interwoven, like a fabric. So when we look at Pollard’s work, we are ‘reading’ a deeply personal nonverbal dialogue—as all conversations are at heart—between the artist and paint.
Pollard’s work is about being receptive to the paint, or, better, how it responds to her, in context of their shared environment. So, each work is a dialogue and index: gestures, weather, gravity, accidents, interruptions, and so on, are all recorded in the making until the performance comes to an end—the paint facilitates the action.
When Pollard talks about her relationship with paint she describes a dialogue that is full of stops and stops much like the fabric of inner thought: ‘sometimes the paint stops when I’m not ready for it to stop’; ‘it chooses different pathways’ to me; ‘it’s like watching a tear go down someone’s face’; ‘paint comes out more confused than you’d like it to’; ‘when it starts strong, I can determine the pattern’; ‘when it slows and deteriorates, it’s outside of my control’; ‘the wind blew it, and it stuck to itself, turning into this other being’. ‘We gesture more when we can’t find the words’ to express our inner thoughts.
Pollard has exhibited with Modern Arts Projects (MAP) in the group show, Eco-Spirit held at Morton House in the Blue Mountains, curated by Jaquelene Drinkall (2014). MAP open in venues chosen for their architectural history, making something more of the art experience by bringing to the fore place and design. Pollard has had work exhibited at INDEX., Factory 49, Kaleidoscope Gallery, ESP Gallery, Mary Place Gallery, Oxford Art Factory, among other places. She held the Newtown Art Seat 2013/2014. Other honours include: the Callen Art Prize (Highly Commended), Fisher’s Ghost Prize (Finalist), and Marrickville Contemporary Art Prize (Joint Winner). Pollard has held the position of co-director at INDEX. and At the Vanishing Point Gallery. At the former, she co-curated a retrospective for the artist Melanie E Khava in 2011. Following art residencies in Hill End and at Kandos Projects, Pollard moved into what is becoming a regional arts hub.
These kinds of regional hubs don’t happen overnight, and they can be difficult to sustain. After working on the inaugural Cementa, Pollard and Wisser opened Coffee Concrete, a café located in Rylstone’s community gallery, which is about local food and local art. They are dedicated to opening up spaces for artists, bringing artists together from all over, and bringing audiences to experience art in the Mudgee region. As part of the next Cementa Art Festival (2017), for example, Wisser is opening Future Lands, a new art residency, which is about making links between art and agriculture. When Pollard talks passionately about what artists can accomplish given the space—any kind of space—to materialise their ideas, or make links between art and other areas of thought, it’s easy to think of her artworks, which are about being receptive to the environment and responding with humility. ‘My network with the object is about an awareness of its capabilities’, and ‘we are capable of empathising with our environment, as it empathises with us’ its way, said Pollard. She shows us how paint can be receptive, promiscuous, reproductive, much like the process of coming to a new idea.
Whose afraid of Ellsworth Kelly is the working title for Pollard’s latest collection in process, drawing upon the concept of making art as an index of its environment.
– Ashley Haywood