I was invited by artist and project facilitator Cat Bailey to be an artist for the Virtual Arboretum Project, an ongoing responsive art project (conceived and facilitated by artist Cat […]

October 11, 2015 // Colleen Hughson // No Comments // Posted in Blog, Video Art

I was invited by artist and project facilitator Cat Bailey to be an artist for the Virtual Arboretum Project, an ongoing responsive art project (conceived and facilitated by artist Cat Bailey.) For the project, I was asked to create an artwork in response to the Portland Gardens.

Here Cat Bailey explains the Virtual Arboretum Project,

“It aims to bring people’s awareness to nature by increasing foot-traffic to the green spaces in towns or cities, through innovative, artistic, environmental and or socio-historic responses by local, national and international artists. Engagement, by new and old audiences, facilitated through mobile phone technology, enables the artwork to be either temporary and ephemeral or permanently displayed. This project was designed, in part, to promote artists as visionaries, innovators and providers of new perspectives and awarenesses to the layers of existence associated with plant and animal species we have within arms reach. It was also made as a virtual model for archiving both local botanical history and innovative artworks, through the artist’s response to place. Finally using mobile phone technology creates a virtual pathway across regions enabling a unique form of exploration and some useful information to travellers and locals alike.”

 

For myself, this was a wonderful opportunity to explore video art and installation. I got together with the talented and widely exhibited Carmel Wallace to create a 3 channel video art piece called ‘Flora’.

Flora from First Ladies – Colleen Hughson on Vimeo.

While we were figuring out when, where and how we were going to exhibit the completed video artwork, an opening came up at the Portland Art Gallery for a month long exhibition. Cat saw this as a great opportunity to display the Virtual Arboretum Project artworks in a gallery, as well as create some new art works. Cat invited the four VAP artists to exhibit, Sandra Winkworth (Sydney), Carmel Wallace (Portland), Cat Bailey (Narrawong) and myself. There were four of us, and so the name FOUR seemed like a perfect fit for the exhibition.


This would be my first art exhibition as an (video) artist, exhibiting alongside seasoned artists, so it was both terrifying and very exciting. It also felt expansive; I had the freedom to create whatever I felt like. It was art after-all, so NO RULES!

I created two completely new ‘artworks’, recycled another and finished a video piece that I had started a number of years back. The anxiety of an upcoming exhibition was just the motivation I needed!

The FOUR exhibition at the Portland Art Gallery ran from March 3rd – 28th this year and then the VAP artworks went ‘virtual’ and were accessed online via QR Codes located at the Portland Gardens.

So, now with the magic of the WWW, I’m bringing my first video art exhibition, as part of the FOUR Exhibition to you.

Industrial Playground, Video Art Installation, FOUR Exhibition, Portland

Industrial Playground, Video Art Installation, FOUR Exhibition, Portland from First Ladies – Colleen Hughson on Vimeo.

‘Industrial Playground’ Video Art Installation, Portland Art Gallery
a photo film by Colleen Hughson
sound recordist Byron Sutterby
skateboarder Jack Ryan
Warrnambool Victoria Australia 2015

Industrial Playground explores how skateboarders view the potential of the urban landscape for fun. Colleen plays with the moving image, creating stills that come to life through sound and movement.

Black n’ White Photographs, film and Audio
6 min 50 sec (LOOP)

‘HDIMYF?’ Video Installation. FOUR Exhibition, Portland

‘HDIMYF?’ Video Installation. FOUR Exhibition, Portland from First Ladies – Colleen Hughson on Vimeo.

How Does It Make You Feel? (video Installation, FOUR Exhibition, Portland)
Multi-screen Television Installation
Photographs by Colleen Hughson and Danni Noad
Animation by Colleen Hughson

dancers Melissa Dance, Chelsey Reis, Danni Noad and Colleen Hughson
Warrnambool Victoria Australia 2015

How Does It Make You Feel? Explores how clothing can bring out different personas.
Remembering their favorite childhood activity of playing dress-ups, a group of friends get together to re-live their childhood fun with pre-loved clothing.

Created with Televisions saved from the tip

Photo Animation
3 min (LOOP)

Autumn – Video Installation, FOUR Exhibition, Portland art Gallery from First Ladies – Colleen Hughson on Vimeo.

Autumn (A)
a short film by Colleen Hughson
music composed and recorded by John Hudson
dancer Melissa Dance
Warrnambool Victoria Australia 2015

Autumn celebrates the cycle of life and death. Through the healing practice of dance, Melissa Dance pays homage to her late father who passed away during the Autumn time. Melissa uses dance as a tool to transform her grief into a celebration of his life.

Digital Video
3 min 50 sec (LOOP)

Autumn (B)
a photo story by Colleen Hughson
photographs by Colleen Hughson and Danni Noad
storyteller Melissa Dance
Warrnambool Victoria Australia 2010

Local dancer, Melissa Dance, tells the story of her experiences with grief and her relationship to Autumn through dance, word and images.

Black n’ White Photographs and Audio.
2 min 40 sec (LOOP)

Flora – Video Installation, FOUR Exhibition, Portland Art Gallery

Flora – Video Installation, FOUR Exhibition, Portland Art Gallery from First Ladies – Colleen Hughson on Vimeo.

Flora is a short film by Colleen Hughson and Carmel Wallace, with music composed and recorded by Michael Wallace. Flora is played by Ella Eade. Shot in the Botanic Gardens in Portland Victoria Australia 2015.

Flora celebrates the richness and fecundity of nature, personified by a young woman wearing a cloak* made of flowers. The singular beauty of indigenous species is displaced by seductive mass plantings of exotic flora as introduced by successive boat people to these shores. Whilst we may question this displacement, the film presents a post-colonial view of harmonious co-habitation: the bees happily feast on the nectar of both indigenous and introduced flowers, and we as audience also enjoy the extravagant beauty of both.

*Titled Flowers for Gardens, this cloak was originally created by Carmel Wallace in 2013 for One River, a Centenary of Canberra project, supported by the ACT Government & the Australian Government, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, The Sidney Myer Fund and the Australia Council for the Arts.

For enquiries about this work and others by the artists:
firstladies.com.au or colleen.firstladies@gmail.com
carmelwallace.com or carmelwallaceart@gmail.com
michaelwallacemusic.com or mycalwallace@gmail.com

The project The Virtual Arboretum Portland was made possible by the Australian Governments regional arts program, the Regional Arts Fund, which gives all Australians, wherever they live, better access to opportunities to practice and experience the arts. The Regional Arts Fund is administered in Victoria by Regional Arts Victoria.

RELATED Articles:

‘Top Artists collaborate for Portland Exhibition’, Bluestone Magazine