Above image: Gemma O’Rourke, Video Still
Friday 3 December 2021 – Sunday 9 January 2022
This exhibition is part of the OPEN SKY / Kelly’s Garden program in collaboration with the University of Tasmania
Curated by Toby Juliff and Ainslie Macaulay
OPENING Friday 3 December 2021 | 7.45pm – 9pm
How is that something so abstract can contain within it so all the wrongs, and all the rights of a place and people? How can something so devoid of figure or narrative speak so boldly to individuals and collective bodies, to small incidents of history and big ideas of invasion and settlement? Flags have an enormous capacity to represent territories, spaces – imagined and real – and can also represent peoples, communities, solidarities. And when we see a flag, let’s talk about the Southern Cross for now but the same is true of almost any flag, it is a marker of some sort of occupancy, of an identity or a place. It can bring with a certain discomfort when we think of the atrocities that may have been committed under its form, and at the same time provide hope, sanctuary, pride and protection wherever we might find it.
In short, flags are complicated. They set out improbable and often contradictory ideas. The Australian flag marks out a real set of territories, but also marks out embassies and consulates all over the world – invented places called ‘Australia’ that are neither a real territory nor imagined space. When worn as a cape or a passport too, it defines both an individual wherever they are, a little bit of Oz wherever we go.
Flags signal an occupancy of a place, of ideas, of people, and identity. Some flags – the United Nations or Red Cross – represent ideas. Others – such as the Rainbow Flag or the Aboriginal Flag – represent a collection of peoples that are not tied to a particular place, but to stories of liberation and oppression. Some start life as a signal of revolution – the Tricolour or Stars and Stripes – others as a signal of control.
The brief here is for the artist to mark out their occupancy, whether of place, people, individuals or collectives. Whether it be a big idea or a small space to call one’s own, each flag is an attempt to convey a set of contradictions that are contained within its stitches, collages, its colours, and its use. It can be performed – and all flags should be performed – or made tangible in any material and media. And whilst some might be radical re-inventions, others might tell a story no less important in its intimacy.
Find your flag and fly it.
Clara Martin is an artist and designer based in Launceston, Tasmania. She has developed an artistic practice that has grown to include graphic and textiles design, printmaking, and photography. She has multiple qualifications in the greater design field including a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Tasmania.
Her artistic practice incorporates traditional methods of making, favouring handcrafted textiles, as well as analogue photography and darkroom processes. These mediums are ones that allow her to explore and create large bodies of art and research. Her work focuses on the theory of liminality through tradition, process, and performance. She maintains focus on the act of making, the ways people will interact with objects and spaces, and contexts of these relationships. Her past bodies of work have explored themes of tradition and inheritance, grief and trauma, as well as explorations of the human relationships to certain spaces.
In conjunction to this, she has developed a curatorial and gallery practice, which has her currently working as a Gallery Technician at Design Tasmania in Launceston. She has also served as the director of the Precinct Art Society and Powerhouse Gallery respectively, seeing a full schedule of exhibitions come to life.
Home Flag is a handcrafted banner, constructed from household materials, that lays claim to the domestic space and declares loudly it a place of prestige. It uses a knowledge of kitsch design, the politics of women and craft, as well as the practical knowledge of weaving and appliqué, and the current state of the world to proclaim the domiciliary and the mundane as things of great esteem. This flag takes its texts from Percy Shelley’s ‘Ozimandias’ to liken these regular things to the great works of kings.
Proudly sovereign as melukerdee woman from the Huon region, with maternal familial heritage from mangalantia, and also honouring her Celtic bloodline, Gemma O’Rourke is an emerging artist driven by the vibrancy of matter and interwoven fractalising patterns of nature. She continues to explore painting, drawing, photography, writing, video, sound, voice and performative works that are heart- centred to empower others to feel connected. Her artworks encourage investigation of quantum physics perspectives that align with First Nations lived experience of the ‘Eveywhen’ in which all things are sentient, interconnected and timeless.
Video & soundscape
Available for viewing 8PM-12PM midnight