Found Object Daily Drawing and Installation
Was my ‘found’ object project influenced by childhood years spent walking with my father who always picked up objects off the ground? In marked contrast to the “European Sunday Best” of a weekend, my father’s weekly dress consisted of khaki “yakka” overalls, the bib of which was usually held up only by one strap, the other strap hung down at the back loosely and freely. These overalls had numerous pockets of varying sizes and depths; almost purpose built for the differing objects that he found. Being a handyman, the objects that he picked up were always of some use, if not now; then at some future time for a repair or new project.
So, as a child, I rescued objects. Not because they were useful, but because they seemed so lonely. I was drawn to their often worn and broken aspects of the discardment. “If an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi-sabi.” (Juniper 2003, 11)
My desire for the ‘object’ to belong was evident as a child, when I struggled to reach the clothesline to re-arrange the washing so that each item touched one another, rather than be fluttering alone.
And so, I continue to have empathy for the ‘lost’ object.
In this project, in removing the found object from the landscape I am removing it from its rightful place in a future archaeological history of the specific landscape, in particular from the historic and cultural landscape of Beechworth where I live.
My collecting methodology was at best described as eclectically random; including the natural and artificial, the old and the new, the whole and the fragment. In the course of the research I cannot definitively say that it is I who chooses the object rather than the object choosing me.
Sometimes I picked up things that I could immediately attach a significance to. A wide, dull red rubber band found on the corner of Williams and Latrobe streets in Melbourne, on the way to the Supreme Court. During the course of the day’s proceedings I noticed that these large bands held together court documents that barristers and their clerks clutched to their chests as they strode against the wind, to and from court to their chambers. This band lying on the corner was configured into the #8 numeral…bringing to mind the symbol of infinity; the infinite number of ways that a fleet footed, quick thinking barrister could construe a plaintiff’s naive remarks.
Though I knew that it would present a drawing challenge I nevertheless picked up a mirror shard as on that day it suggested ‘a need for personal reflection’.
At times an aesthetic consideration of contrasting colour or texture drew my attention to an object. The discarded white plastic spoon, so ubiquitous after festival days, contrasting vividly against the black wet mud at the edge of the croquet lawn, as I pass underneath the large ancient pines, my footfall softens to a barely audible pad, pad, pad, and within the deep thick carpet of wet golden pine needles the burst and flattened red balloon becomes visible.
There were objects that were just too difficult to pick up and it made me reflect on the fact that I should have thought this project out a little more. Perhaps a photographic record would have worked better as I have missed some beauties. The tiny blue child’s flip flop at the intersection of Flemington Rd and Sydney Rd, Melbourne….what was the fate of the other flip flop? What was the fate of the child who owned those flip flops? How did the flip flop get to be there? The flattened sparrow on the bitumen, or the dead cat, rigormortis had already set, its body wet from the night’s heavy rain, except for the head which remained dry in the plastic bag that was tied tightly around the neck with twine. The objects with bodily fluid that is not my own…the bloated brownish pink tampon, or the condom sticky with semen.
Many of my found objects were from around the Old Goldfields Hospital Façade . Built in the mid 1800s, it was dismantled in the late 1940s, and in the intervening years between then and the 1980s, the site was used as a dumping ground for a variety of household rubbish by neighbours, adding to the older collection of medical apparatus, medicine bottles, pieces of painted china, shards of crystal and bones. “Contemporary flotsam and jetsam mingle with objects from all periods, which in a sense, confounds and challenges archaeological method, in that it is impossible to recognise a true stratigraphy.” (Williams 1999, 75) Some of my most treasured pieces are from this specific site; bearing the imprint of the state of the world that they were created in: notably the 1916 penny and the 1960’s ‘coca-cola’ yo-yo.