Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Interview with Beth Taylor about her upcoming exhibition 'Home'

What's the concept behind your exhibition 'Home' 
It's a celebration of the comfort, inspiration, frustration, mess and happiness of home life. Like everything I do, it's about the beauty of the every day.

What can people expect to find in your show?
  • A huge photo collage made up of about 1,000 photos taken over the past year in and around our house.
  • Images of homing pigeons in flight around the room. (See below for the story behind this).
  • A website with 'home' themed content made by myself and other artists and writers. There will be audio, video, photography and writing on there: home.wizzybliss.com
This video (below) shows a small sample of the photographs used in the exhibition. http://youtu.be/gSdA6sjpUyc

What inspired you to document home life?
The project started with a fortuitous meeting with some pigeons actually! I have always had a fascination with homing pigeons and there are quite a lot in the Inner West. I love watching them fly up and down in formation. One day I was out taking photos around our area and saw some pigeons flying around. A guy came up to me and asked me why I was photographing them. I said that I thought they were beautiful and he proudly told me they were his birds and asked me back to his place to take a closer look. While I was there he did another run of the birds and I was amazed at their grace and skill. They all moved as one, doing cool tricks in the air and then swooping back to earth. That morning I had been grumpy that it was an overcast day, meaning that the light was quite flat for photos, but the cloudcover made a huge light-box in the sky! I was so excited when I looked at the photos back at home. The pigeons (below) were luminous and inspiring.

I started thinking how I could turn these photos into an exhibition. I decided that a whole exhibition of pigeons wouldn't work, but what stuck with me was the way that even though the pigeons are free to leave, they always choose to go home. I found that really poignant, and I could identify with it. This inspired me to document my life in our home. A place I choose to return to again and again.

Up until having a child, home was a place I slept in and sometimes entertained in, but I didn't spend very much time there. I was either out working or socialising. But that's totally changed now - I rarely go out at night, and on the days I'm not working I spend a big chunk at home with Leo. It took me a long time to adjust to that life and enjoy it.

Photography had to be the medium because it's so fast and it's something my son lets me do while I'm with him. We both enjoy ourselves because taking photos makes me happy, and he loves to see them after I take them.

I've always been interested in the beauty of everyday things, and I find Leo's interest and enthusiasm for the world very inspiring. He is alive to the simplest beauty - whether it be a flash of light or a chalk mark on a brick wall. We enjoy doing craft together and that's often a process I photograph too.

I am a bit of a hoarder and I love making lists and categorising things, so documenting our lives really appealed to me.

I would be so happy if people who come to the exhibition went home and looked at some of the items they've seen a million times - like tangled cords and washing on the line - in a different way.

Did you learn anything about home life that took you by surprise?
I have learned:
I've grown up a lot but I'm still a big kid! When I was a teenager I used to cover my walls in images I liked (bands and singers, actors, pictures of animals and landscapes, tickets to concerts – pictured below), and this is actually turning out to be a lot like that. The big difference is that I've taken the images myself. 

I'm naturally messy but I don't like other people's mess - which is very unfair of me! As a mum it's expected that you keep your house clean and tidy and I have times where I freak out about the state of the house with a pre-schooler effortlessly wrecking the joint. I used these photographs as a way of reminding myself that good enough is good enough and perfection is not only empty but unattainable. A couple of times I moved something to try and get a better photo, or wiped away some dust, and I just couldn't use those photos in the end because they didn't ring true.

We have a lot of cords! Rechargers, power cords, earphones and file transfer cables - you name it. They are everywhere, and people usually hide that sort of thing when they take photographs of their homes. I'm embracing them as beautiful objects.

I really love colour and pattern and light and flowers and my loved one's faces.They put a song in my heart.

You have created a multimedia exhibition, can you tell us about the different approaches you have taken and why? (Photography, collage, digital)
My last exhibition at Sweets was a sculptural interpretation of the solar system made out of melted breadtags. Where do you go from there?!

Growing up, photography was the first art practice that totally made sense to me. When I was a teenager I wanted to be a documentary photographer, and then I discovered documentary film at uni and was convinced that was my calling. But after following my dream for a while, I ended up coming back to photography, which was a much more inexpensive medium, and something I could do on my own with what little spare time I had. Its immediacy is incredible.

This exhibition combines all my interests: documentary photography, collecting and classifying things, installation work (which I find more submersive for an audience), writing, audio and video production and multimedia and web design (I work in multimedia), and collage (much like with the breadtags - the process is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle - it's quite meditative). Appropriately enough, creating this work has been like coming home.