Thursday, January 6, 2011

Rosalie Gascoigne

So, I don't really have a funny story about Rosalie Gascoigne - I just wanted to leave you with a teaser. If I ever have a girl kid I'd call her Rosalie. That's a bit of a secret. Not really. Sorry, I'm not sure why I can't stop lying about this stuff.

Rosalie is one of my favourite artists and that is the truth. At 60 something she became the first female artist to represent Australia at the Venice Biennale. Before she became an artist she spent time assembling flowers using the Japanese artform of Ikebana. Later she worked on assembling wooden boxed materials and items she found around the Canberra countryside. Her first exhibition was at the age of 57 and she quickly became the talk around town. I think that is pretty cool.

Her signature pieces were made out of reflective street signs way before anyone else though of it, and you'll see a stack of people copying that look all over the place. But that is Rosalie. She did it first and it is important and clever to execute these things before anyone else. Sometimes that is what art is about.

Some of her other best-known works use faded, once-bright drinks crates;and old bits of floral lino. Years ago when I moved to Canberra I made a series based on lino found in my first Canberra red brick house. It was inspired by Rosalie, and included pretty words about her.I'll try and dig it out to show you.

Before I moved to Canberra I would go to Rosalie shows in Sydney, not knowing that I was soon to move to her home town. I'd stand in rooms full of bright yellow cut up signs and think for $10 000 one could be all mine.It seemed like so much money then, and it still is - but my word it would have been quite the investment, because not that many years later those works of art were worth a bomb.

But for now I make to with visiting one of my favourite Rosalie pieces at the National Gallery here in Canberra.

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