This work is an example of concurrence across artworks. In this case, two independent works, Flystrips and Red Rain, were made together as part of the one process – the masking and the traces. This always gives rise to questions as to whether they might stay together, and I try to keep in mind something my dad always used to say: “Circumstances alter cases”. For Playing Beyond the Skin I kept the two together as it suited the theme.
It was in making this work that I discovered that there is a natural twist in harberdasher’s tape, which may be to do with the twist in its threads, or with the way it is spooled. In any event, this twist changes with environmental conditions. The tapes flatten out as the humidity increases and tighten up as it gets drier. The effect with this work is that, with the tapes only painted on the one side, the image area travels up and down the work.
There is a pre-history to this work, which has to do with The Apology to the Stolen Generations. I was interested at the time in the idea of some sort of memorial to small pox, which killed huge numbers of indigenous people the world over, and around which there is a forgetting, similar to the effect of terra nullius. Small pox wasn’t eradicated by putting up memorials, though.
When it works, I like to allow an artwork its own making. A feature of this piece is that the tapes are left untrimmed, so the creases and staple marks from where they were attached to the backing canvas are visible at the loose end.
PROJECT: Playing Beyond the Skin