Artist in Residence
April- June 2017
Fiona Gavino is a nationally recognised fibre artist who applies basket making materials and techniques to create sculpture and installation. Many of her works explore ideas around post-colonial Australian and the commodification of the female body. During her residency, Fiona used the grounds of Heathcote to create ephemeral site specific installations.
My time at Heathcote
The Heathcote Cultural Precinct is a rich and stimulating locale for an artist in residency. It was such a privilege to have the opportunity to engage with a site that had such a rich pre-colonial history.
When people ask about my art practice I tell them to think of basketry and then I tell them that that is my point of departure. So, after having stated this, there are of course the obvious parallels that can be drawn with basket making, basket cases and mental asylums. As an artist with the same daily stories as anyone of finding a level line to be guided by or feeling like the line is actually a solid reality and, therefore worth making it the horizon that steers you towards a greater sense of existence the recent history of HCP was a stimulating starting point to look back into the site from.
The confluence of the two rivers Derbarl Yerrigan (Swan River) and Goolugatup (Canning River) hold a rich and long unbroken history whether we see it or not. I was drawn into imaging the significant cultural events that had occurred here in the past. I challenge myself to take an empty vessel approach to a residency and often take the opportunity to stretch myself and incorporate something new into my practice. In response to the site I took photos looking out towards the confluence of the two rivers and I produced a suite of ink drawings on parchment, which for me as someone who makes sculpture and installation was definitely a stretch.
In part of my practice I continually seek to understand why there needs to be lingering aspects of colonialism as ubiquitous as ever in Australian society and law. The built environs at HCP were a great platform in which to visually engage with these notions. Spending time moving a biomorphic sculpture around the site that appeared as if it was reclaiming territory was they way in which I tried to understand this albeit through the lens of the exoticised other and, HCP was one the most apt places to investigate this in Perth.