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Elizabeth Paterson

Elizabeth Paterson
Artist's statement

I hope to create art that contributes to the vitality of everyday life and is accessible to a broad based audience. I therefore seek out contexts and forms for my ideas that sidestep the sense of isolation from daily life that I feel the visual art and theatre worlds are often trapped in. As a result, over the years, I have created such diverse forms as masquerades, water puppets, a perambulating tin-can car, Christmas window installation, cardboard cabinets and concrete public sculptures.

Whatever material I am using I like to work very directly with my hands. This can be ridiculously laborious but it enables me to create a very detailed sense of texture that gives an aliveness to the final outcome. Sometimes it also opens up new possibilities for the material and encourages a playful quality in the work.

Nowadays I often work with papier mache. It is very adaptable, requires few resources and uses cheap, easy-to-find materials. It's also a medium many people relate to easily while still being surprised when they discover what's possible working with just paper and glue. I like challenging perceptions about the medium of papier mache and pushing it into new areas.

Much of my art is about the experience of living in a many-cultured migrant society in the midst of the Canberra landscape. I hope my work questions and contributes to the ways that people have attempted to make themselves feel at home here.

Recent work
The Monkey Show (detail)
  • The Monkey Show (detail), 2001
  • Paper, glue
  • Dimensions: 16 x 14 x 14cm
  • Photo: Courtesy of the artist
The Monkey Show (installation detail)
  • The Monkey Show (installation detail), 2001
  • Paper, glue, cardboard, wire, paint, chair
  • Dimensions: 135 x 130 x 120cm
  • Photo: Courtesy of the artist
A Suburban Mix
  • A Suburban Mix, 2004
  • Papier mache, cardboard, pain
  • Dimensions: 100 x 45 x 45cm
  • Photo: Courtesy of the artist
A Hill and a Pair of Gang Gangs
  • A Hill and a Pair of Gang Gangs, 2004
  • Papier mache, cardboard, paint
  • Dimensions: 115 x 42 x 42cm
  • Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Among the Gum Trees
  • Among the Gum Trees, 2004
  • Papier mache, cardboard, chicken wire
  • Dimensions: 130 x 110 x 50cm
  • Photo: Courtesy of the artist
The Path
  • The Path, 2005
  • Paper, glue, wire
  • Dimensions: 40 x 38 x 20 cm
  • Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Elizabeth graduated as a performer from the VCA Drama School in 1979 but was already creating visual elements as an integral part of her performances. These early performances developed into her solo masquerade shows that toured south-east Australia.

In 1988, supported by an Australia Council grant, Elizabeth attended a month long workshop with Tadeusz Kantor, France. Kantor's work was based in a visual arts language not the actor's process she was trained in. This facilitated her move into the visual arts. Thus began a long process during which Elizabeth continued with freelance theatre work (puppet making, designing and collaborating with many artists, for example Company Skylark, Canberra Youth Theatre and Song Ngoc Water Puppet Troup to create Water Stories for the Sydney and Canberra Festivals in 1997).

In 1994 Elizabeth completed a Graduate Diploma in Sculpture at Australian National University School of Art. Papier-mache and cardboard emerged as her preferred media. Further development during her ACT Creative Arts Fellowship in 1998 eventually led to two solo shows made entirely from papier mache and cardboard - The Monkey Show and Curious Cabinets - as well as commissions for the National Archives and courses in papier mache for adult education and Fibre Forums in Geelong, Brisbane and Launceston.

Selected exhibitions
2008:   Growing Home - the street trees of Canberra, Visitors Centre Gallery, Australian National Botanic Gardens - Canberra
2007:   Shifting Perspectives, Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre - Canberra
2007:   Found In Public, Tuggeranong Art Centre Gallery - Canberra
2005:   Artisans in the Garden, Royal Botanic Gardens - Sydney
2005:   29th Alice Craft Acquisition, Araluen Arts Centre - Alice Springs, NT
2005:   Hazelhurst Art Award: Art on Paper, Hazelhurst Regional Gallery - Sydney
2004:   Curious Cabinet, Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre - Canberra
2001:   The Monkey Show, Canberra Museum and Gallery - Canberra
Selected commissions/awards/grants
2006:   Concrete sculptures for Finn St Park, With Steven Holland, Bev Hogg, Turner Primary Class 5/6. Northside Community Services
2004:   Papier mache replica brick wall, National Archives and artsACT project grant. With Steven Holland
2003:   Suitcase sculpture for Bonegilla exhibition, National Archives
2002:   Concrete sculptures - Griffith shops, With Bev Hogg, Steven Holland
2001:   Set of masks for Canberra Youth Theatre
2000:   Concrete sheep and dog - Dickson shops, With Bev Hogg, Steven Holland
2000:   Large clown's head for outside wall of Questacon


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