Thursday, August 21, 2008

Road Works

Road Works (or My Favourite Pothole)

An invitation.

At the Mangrove Mountain Country Fair this year (18th October) there will be a new category in the art section open to all ages and mediums.

We are looking for art made in response to the pleasure of negotiating a way along the road surface of Wisemans Ferry Road, or any other road in the Mangrove Mountain districts, as you experience the impact of a kaleidoscope of colours, materials, textures and topography.

The road is a metaphor as well as a physical, political and economic reality. It has aesthetic values and has been a defining element in the district’s historical development.

The subject can be approached in a wide variety of ways. Already we have people interested in making paintings, digital images, prints, photographs and sculpture.

To make the challenge less hazardous, we have a collection of digital images of the road surface available to work from if required. A CD is available on request.

We would like to invite you to enter. The deadline for works to be delivered to Mangrove Mountain Hall will be in the week leading to the 18th of October. More details will be posted when finalised.

If you need more information, or have any questions, contact:
Neil on 041 1136 145 or

There will also be updates at:

By coincidence, and as incentive, we record that Huma Bhabha is the recipient of the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum's 2008 Emerging Artist Award. She will debut an exhibition of new work at the Museum on September 14th. For this exhibition, she has created Bumps in the Road, a figurative sculpture made of clay, wood, wire, Styrofoam, metal studs, acrylic paint, cast iron, burlap, newsprint, sand, and ash.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Sense of Place

The current exhibition at the Gosford Regional Gallery, A Sense of Place, reflects a lack of clarity in curatorial intention and inconsistencies in process. This is a pity as ideas about identity and place are worthy of deeper consideration than was possible given the brief, seemingly to entertain guests of the Sister City Convention.
With curator Tim Braham on sick leave and an urgency to get the shop open in time, some of the artists having been included in an intensive educational process and others brought in at short notice, it is not surprising that the exhibition (including some interesting individual works) was too disjointed to deliver an opportunity to question notions of 'place' more extensively.

The following text was included in the installation can. you. here, and touches on a few concepts that might be of interest.

Place is an imaginative process, a destination.
It is virtual in the sense of its virtuality being an aspect of the actual. (Deleuze)
Beyond topography it is a story, or stories, that need to be told and retold. Topography too is a cultural construct, so place is intellectual property, cultural property.
A location’s particularity exists in a network of differences, so it’s meaning is fluid, relational, and contested.

A sense of place, or consciousness of the particularity of location, with associated emotional responses, requires all the senses. It also needs memory, knowledge and suspension of ego. It is intuitive and creative, involving a complex array of cognitive and perceptual processes. It is assisted by a form of perception sometimes referred to as “allocentric perception” – letting oneself be informed by circumstances – ‘listening’, rather than interpreting situations as opportunities for personal gain.
Understanding of place also can be expanded in the light of changes in technology, in particular rapid transport and digital communications. Of particular interest is what the sociologist Manuel Castells calls “the space of flows”.
The space of flows is best thought of as a myriad of translocal networks, held together by continuous circulation of people, materials and bits. The key element about the space of flows “which justifies us to speak of it as a unique space despite its constitutive fragmentation” is that it enables us to connect distributed entities as if they were in one place, thus fundamentally affecting social geography.
In this environment we live simultaneously in different time ‘spaces’. Amongst these are the slow lived time of social transactions, industrial time of commercial and institutional production and, now of great significance, instant global digital communication.
Distant communications linking people globally is as fast as local connectivity and much faster than ‘on the ground’ transaction. Our sense of place is conditioned by tensions arising from trying to mesh the gears of these different social processes.
Tensions also arise from trying to accommodate what is perceived as a ‘natural” definition of place, that based on physical features and historical identities, with juridical and political-administrative areas. The Mangrove Mountain area, as defined as an entity by geography and history, is divided and administered by three different local councils.
A sense of place is something that must be continually reproduced. It is not something that is solely a result of individual perception of the distinguishing features, but is also the result of the mechanisms that produce collective identity through public and political pedagogy and “learned prosthetic memories”.

Places are distinguished not only for their place-myths, but also for their differences to other places. This is not only the negative understanding of what is lacking in relation to other places, but also what is construed as appropriate for a place; places for this and places for that. Of course the place-myths can also be seen as ways to accentuate differences to reinforce local identity as Levi Straus pointed out in The Raw and the Cooked.
An example of construing or compelling place identity can be seen in the recent state planning strategies, which designated the Mangrove Mountain districts, with an arbitrary eastern border, the F3, as being zoned to protect the potential for extractive industries, with disregard for the wishes of the majority of the inhabitants.
Places are also memory banks for societies. They retain the rhythms of repetition, routine, deportment and gesture imprinted in the somatic memory of individual inhabitants. Many of us can remember where we were when we heard of some significant event taking ‘place’. And we might also recall being ‘out of place’ when our behaviour did not match the prescribed forms.
In this way ‘place’ is causative, it “puts us in our place”, but perhaps this is what we test for in our awareness of a “sense of place”, a feeling of being at home, of belonging, of communion.

Place awareness is an aspect of locality, and is deepened by memories associated with that place, and of previously known places, and personal emotions associated with them. In this way it is an aspect of self-recognition. Matching of this complex individual psychological matrix with the perceived attributes of a place, gives us our nuanced sense of belonging.

No News

The postponed June meeting of the Gosford Regional Gallery Advisory Committee has not yet been rescheduled.
Likewise there is no news of any progress with the Cultural Spaces and Places Report.
We would ask candidates for the September local government elections about their arts policies, but we don't know who they are.