BY ERIN CORSTIAANS
In our newest group exhibition, Nostalgia, the artists from our studios in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne were asked to creatively respond to the question, “Remember when…?”
If you’ve seen the exhibition, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the artists collaborated on their pieces. Each of the artworks are like kaleidoscopic shards, the sum of their parts creating a bigger idea that is multifaceted, unified, and intricately woven. Viewing the exhibition feels more like wandering through a gallery of memories, which draws on all the senses to evoke nostalgia at every turn.
Nostalgia is both an exhibition and an invitation—walking down memory lane is more fun with company, after all! While viewing the exhibition, you are invited to interact with the art by engaging with all of your senses. You can weave your fingers through tinsel yarn and flip the pages of a pop-up book. You can sniff the contents of mysterious jars, and stand on tiptoes to see the sunset past the crepe myrtle tree. If you lean close to the painted Jumanji game, you might just hear the beating drums.
The art reflects nostalgic memories for the artists, and at the same time prompts you to consider what memories, feelings or smells evoke nostalgia for yourself. Each piece acts as an impetus for you to explore your own memories and imagination.
To launch the exhibition, we put on an ‘Arty Party’, and invited the public to join the team in reliving their favourite kids party, but for adults. Before stepping into the studio, guests were met with a twister mat, a larger-than-life poster of Dali they could pin moustaches on, and a game of hopscotch (because who can walk past a hopscotch game without playing?).
There were bubbles (the champagne kind), butterfly paintings, drawing games, and of course the exhibition upstairs, which guests could peruse at their leisure. To top off the evening the guests painted a specially designed fairy bread painting, and finished it with a sprinkle of fairy dust glitter. Tessa Milton, who attended the Arty Party, said: “It was an evening of fabulous and frivolous fun. My senses took over and the art work, music and party activities with friends carried me through my memories right back to childhood.” Tessa created a series of butterfly paintings, which she proudly took home with her. “Nothing was more important in that moment than the butterfly ‘squish’ painting right in front of me,” she said.
The Arty Party concluded with two prize announcements: The Wall Prize, presented by Cork & Chroma directors Hillary and B.J. Wall, and People’s Choice, nominated by those present on the evening. The Wall Prize went to Laura Wassermann for her piece ‘A Handful of Times’, which pays homage to the childhood string game ‘Cat’s Cradle’. Laura thread her own sentimental and symbolic values into her piece, aiming to awaken the most heightened notion of nostalgia. In her artist statement, Laura said: “It’s a game that harks back to an age of simplicity and innocence, a time when as children our imagination was only beginning to take form and the most mundane object could serve as hours of entertainment.”
People’s Choice was a split vote between ‘Pooh Sticks’ by Suzie Ferry, and ‘A Way to Leave Your World Behind’ by Sophie McManus, AKA Deatbeat Dame.
Amy Davidson, who curated the exhibition, believes that the artworks show the intricate and layered emotions and experiences we have in our childhood. “It’s deeper than playfulness,” she said. “Almost like a wistful longing. A wistful longing to relive those carefree years again of a time and existence much simpler.”
Though the concepts and emotions behind the artworks are complex, they share a collective innocence and point to more simple times. Tossing sticks over bridges, holding hands with loved ones, finding shapes in the clouds—we can still do these things. And so why then do they awaken nostalgia within us? It’s because these moments are connected to our memories, and there will always be space between our memories and our reality. That space is the most fertile ground for nostalgia to grow. We allow it to, looking over our shoulder from time to time to sigh, smile, or just watch for a while.
Facebook: Art Party Album