Friday, November 4, 2011

Meet Your Maker: Tara Gilbee

S: Tara you’ve been such a busy lady, it’s hard to know where to begin!
Tell us a little bit about your background.

TG: I have been exhibiting since 1998 so i guess that makes it 13 years now, I studied art in my mid 20s after training and working as a nurse for a while. I have incorporated this experience at times in my work and i have continued to work as a nurse alongside making art as well.

S: What path has led you to what you do now?

TG: I have always been interested in the sense of phenomena that I can captivate my audience with and have not been so interested in making objects. This was not the approach focused on in my early training at VCA but on graduation I participated in events such as the Birdge project, which was my first taste of site specific art, from there i organised a residency at the hospital I trained at and curated a few shows at Platform space. The relationship with public space and transition of people through spaces, their history and uses were more exciting ground for me to consider work. 

From there I continued to look at this relationship and found moving to the country another challenging space to engage. In the city you can move and make interventions in a very anonymous way, in a small town this is less feasible and an interesting ground for further exploration of the public spaces that can be potentially utilised for art. The fun really began looking at things like the local Chinese restaurant or a disused toilet block, posters in the bush etc. All of this exploration was supported and mentored through a very important arts organisation (Punctum Inc) and its director Jude Anderson. My association and work with her has opened up many possibilities and taught me a lot about the 'theatrical' and live arts potential within activities i was seeking to undertake.

S: You recently just completed a cultural exchange at the Abbaye de Noirlac in the Loire Valley, France. Can you talk a little bit about that, and how that has influence/affected this particular body of work?
TG: The cultural exchange project at the Abbaye was to look at sound and mapping the environment of the Abbaye. The aim being to explore the transformation of sound into a sculptural installation within the Abbaye. As it was research a proportion of the work has been undertaken but there is more to develop. The work I have produced for this show was taken from an earlier concept I developed and have sat with for many years. It is based on notes I have found in the streets and in my travels. Some of the notes were found in France while on this cultural exchange and I was fortunate to be given an opportunity through my time and association with the Abbaye to work at the Ecole de Nationale Superier Arts school in Bourges. I had access to the dark room and assistance from a professor who specialises in photograms. This was an exciting opportunity I had not anticipated. 

The artworks [for You Must Remember This] are photograms of crumpled notes that have found their way to me, some are more personal and in a way all seem to have a autobiographical relationship. They are beautiful inscriptions when made into photograms and have an X-ray quality to them, which is fitting for I have worked in this medium. I am interested in the handwriting and the personal broken narratives. I was reading a piece of writing by Paul Carter recently were he describes the nature of remembering as a pun, the break down of the word to 'remember'. Just as recollection breaks into a pun in this exhibition, the process of collecting and representing these works exerts some of the notion of the process of memory and recall.

As for the outcome of the research at the Abbaye, the project will continue to be developed in Australia and I am anticipating it will have some exciting presentation options in the future at the Abbaye.

Also some readers may be interested to know more about the Inhabit International project in general and opportunities to participate have just been advertised for 2012, so I recommend they go to the Punctum website and/or they are welcome to contact me about my own experiences.

S: Your practice encompasses a range of media and techniques, from photography to drawing to installation. What have you worked with for this particular body of work and why have you chosen this media?
TG: I started with the photogram with the notes as it had a transforming capacity, turning the writing into negative and giving it a forensic quality. I also liked the effect of the reversals and negative/positive relationships. Some of these qualities negate understanding and create a more gestural nature for the artwork. With this in mind I moved on to draw up some of the notes, inscripting my own mark on top of the found authors, enlarging the notes also brings out the marks and distinctive textures of the notes, which I have enjoyed exploring. The installation and configuration of all the works and presentations I have explored is going to be a trial of the medium of photography, projection and potentially drawing. I like to leave things open. 

S: You’ve mentioned an interest in forensics – what is it about this area of research that fascinates you?

TG: My Father was a detective/policeman. So in a personal sense it has some currency but I also like the mixture of science and personal. It's the use of forensic process or language to evoke a wider narrative and mystery or investigation for the audience. I aim to involve a handwriting expert in the future presentations of this work. To create a dialogue and analysis of what I have found and this field. Actually from a cursory review of this field its divided into two areas, document analysis for courts and a type of psychological profiling. I will see where this all fits in further development.

S: What does a typical workday involve for you?

TG: My studio is in my head a lot of the time, my favourite space for contemplation at present is driving to Maryborough for work and sitting by the Cairn Curran waters. At present I work a lot of hours and creative time is a privilege but when I was in France, I found photographing and discovering at dawn and dusk really productive and then other activities during the day, driving visiting cultural sites etc. At night I love to draw, to settle into a really meditative space if I can.
S: What would be your dream creative project?
TG: I created two proposals for the Abbaye to return and present, the second was a large scale installation, which I proposed a team of artists and some interesting material to develop. It focusses on creating a fortress like maze for the visitors of the space. Further funding and opportunity to do this would be a 'dream creative project' realised and a fantastic way to extend my creative relationship so much further.
S: What are you looking forward to?  

More of what I already have and maybe more time for art. I look forward to working more with Punctum, I am participating in a mentoring project with them, so imparting some knowledge to others will be great. I enjoy all the artists, their energy and vitality in this region, so I know lots of good creative life blood will always be here to help me thrive, hopefully I also add to this as well. Lastly - I look forward to going back to France with my daughter next time, all going well!