Laura Clement - Through the Keyhole
Laura Clement, whose first solo exhibition, Through the Keyhole, opens at Rex Livingston Art + Objects, Katoomba, June 3, has come a long way since ripping off Norman Lindsay as a child.
“I remember when I was five, and my mother walked into my playroom with a picture I had drawn on a pink square paper. She held it up and asked, ‘What is this?’ I didn’t understand the question, it was clear as day; a naked woman standing proudly with her arms out, with massive breasts and a full bush of pubic hair. Three men stood on each side looking at her, awestruck. Mum told me I wasn’t to make these images anymore. Looking back I can see I was just doing as artists and children do; trying to figure out the dynamics and meaning of what I perceived as a fundamental situation going on in all things, I had to figure it out!”
Nudes feature heavily in Keyholes, a collection of paintings and sketches based around the regenerative qualities of water, which Laura sees as an element used to cleanse the self and make fresh pathways, through the sombre ritual of a bath, the shocking revelation of a rush or the strength of being wrung out.
“These paintings come from a need to discuss the pains, triumphs and tiny daily joys which are suffered and celebrated through varied personal circumstance in a society of individuals. The joys are the self-defining moments. Small joys are essential, tools for surviving as the authentic self.”
Laura believes we have many rooms in our psyche, and each room holds a defined, but always dynamic, part of the self. Each room has a purpose, its own décor and ritual, weather and welcome guest. Some guests might be ushered to another room. We flood and re-build, but the ultimate revelation is that its your household and you must learn to use each room or each self, to look after it, mess it up, clean it up, guard it. It’s important to know where things go and what to keep out in order to maintain balance and be able to thrive.
“Bathrooms feature a lot in my work because I find them very calming. A shower is the closest I can get to a damp rock and a waterfall wherever I am. This is a sentimental place for me, a place of respite.”
Her habit of cropping body parts comes from a fascination with the impact of a gesture over a face. As a younger artist she found hands and feet intimidating, “So I now am obsessed with them.”
The work comes from moments in her life, some images, such as ‘Sister in Paris’ are literal and others are a personal poetic response. “Images became my language very early in life and I will always create them in a conversation with myself. In my experience they can often speak to others, perhaps generating a feeling of warmth.”
Steve Hart series;
A masculine man in a pretty silky or frilly dress has always intrigued me.
When raw masculinity pushes through and merges with femininity it is a complete aesthetic achievement for me. Needless to say I loved Pricilla queen of the desert.
The desert has always been a repeated motif in my work, and over the years have been wondering into its raw, rich and burnt hues I have concluded I go there to empty and build, to search, to starve and wonder, to cleanse, to look for water, inspiration.
Being the last series created in this show, Steve Hart’s chapter begins in all these images but more so I can now see it beginning in “red roses red roses. It is the journey of two estranged parts becoming one unifying being. It is the journey to a complete un-searching self.
Steve’s journey starts off prim and protected, the pieces are superficial, they are assembled together as a look, but they have not yet integrated. Man in dress with shotgun - the suggestions of genders here are explored as energy’s of which both are vital to movement and transformation, this journey aspires towards unity.
There is a fire, he rides away from the buildings on the back of a horse, and they are followed by a storm. Cut free and on the move.
From there the narrative is about bravery, communion, transformation and evolution.
In the final scene we see the garment is no longer an important part of the truth, neither gender. Surrendered, Steve Hart stands in front of the horizon unified, a perfect blend of force and yielding, an ultimate traveller. His companion is a white dog. A loyal companion of pure intention and blessings, which gives the self permission, through conviction of truth and purpose, fulfilling company.
Steve Hart is a fictional character, but also a member of the Kelly Gang. It was rumoured that Hart would ride around in a dress side-saddle for various folly’s.
I adopted him to explore this narrative.
Vase of Sentiment;
This series began with a vision of a vase full of water being emptied on a white tablecloth. Stark, crisp, firm in front of what one of my dearest friends and I would call “a power green” and floor of dirt.
This was an extremely cleansing, freeing and powerful visual to experience and create on a large scale.
From here I started to explore the idea that inside we had many vases as such, all varied in purpose. I call them vases of sentiment. I imagine they sit in a special gallery. Some are for the stories and care we invest and gather in our interactions and relationships with other people and the world. Other vases hold information about the relationships we have with our selves.
“No more sentiment here or there”, shows the ritualistic way in which we must make decisions to empty those vessels which have potential to go stale and stagnate. These vases have contents that can turn on us in the form of mental or physical disease and discomfort. To empty a jar is an act of courage and bravery, which acts to purify and promote a healthy freedom and fluidity within our lives.
Next the series goes on to explore a vase of effort in “You are doing well”. This is essentially a jar of excrement of the effort of physical life, blood, sweat & tears. It places gratitude on the pains and reveres ones own sincere effort with reassurance that it was all not in vain.
“Eating pearls” is full of ether like liquid. Pearls drop into it reflecting gold light. Nourishing, but sometimes materially poor, this Vase is a representation of the riches of integrity.
Laura Clement - Through the Keyhole
1 to 19 June 2017, opening Saturday 3 June 2/4pm
Please click on the image for a full view