Domestic Renewal, curated by Rohan Nicol

1 November to 15 December 2012

A collaborative project involving 16 individuals (Alex Asch, Richard Blackwell, Norman Cherry, Ann Cleary, Sarah K and Liane Rossler, Guy Keulemans, Bridie Lander, Gini Lee and Sabine Pagan, Rohan Nicol, Wayne Simon, Jason Wade, Henry Wilson, Mel Robson and Kenji Uranishi) who were invited to make objects for a table setting.

 
Rohan NicholDomestic Renewal Coffee-set, 2009, anodized aluminium, nylon, polyurethane, .925 silver, original coffee percolator 'junior expresso', maker unkown, with new handle, sugar bowl, sugar scoop and milk jug by Rohan Nicol.

Important to this project and exhibition was the initial outline that participants were given when invited to participate, establishing general guidelines for action. In developing their work for this project, the artists were encouraged to consider a range of possibilities and issues such as using existing materials or objects, the idea of place, urban renewal, wide scale rapid change and active stewardship of our artificial landscape amongst many other factors.

The table was a device to frame action and served to establish a common location, a general scale, cultural norms and object archetypes to negotiate. This was a strategic approach to provide a space and setting to imagine, incubate and test new work. In fact it served as something like a little version of the real world, a lab to craft ideas in response to real world challenges and opportunities. This project has produced work that suggests answers to complex problem sets such as the overuse of materials, resources and energy in our lives against a backdrop of globalisation and expanding circles of consumption. The works reflect upon the need for more socially cohesive, culturally and spiritually nurturing places.

Subsequently, the works offer a blueprint or prototype for how we can improve the way in which domestic or urban environments are planned and perceived. This exhibition demonstrates how the creative professions are capable of examining everyday objects and to envisage new ways that they can be created, managed and understood.

The value of an interdisciplinary approach

Important differences exist between the creative professions such as Fine Art, Studio Craft and Architecture. Aspects of these differences are reflected in the particular approach and specific work brought to the table by the individuals involved in this project.

Yet, increasing attention is being paid to the value of collaborations and cross-disciplinary ties, specifically those that support the exchange of knowledge to achieve new creative visions. By asking participants within the exhibition to reflect on inter disciplinary knowledge and practices, the project encouraged new opportunities and exposure to different ways of working. Consequently, this reciprocal practice clarified and defined the artists’ disciplinary boundaries, characteristics and concerns. This in turn reinforced a new and greater understanding of the disciplines by the participants. As a result, for future projects, subsequent collaborations and cross-disciplinary exchange will be enhanced. Inexorably, this will support new understandings, new dialogue and new disciplinary visions.

Architectural Philosopher Juhani Pallasmaa describes this fertile territory of exchange in the following way:

There is a rather widely accepted view that wants to get rid of the boundaries between the various art forms entirely. I for one feel that the ontological differences between the various arts are as significant to acknowledge as the commonalities or shared grounds of the arts.

The Thinking Hand (2009) p115.

Clearly the work brought to the table through this project reflects disciplinary fixation. However, the work serves to focus our understanding of the unique attributes and disciplinary specific knowledge that both define and also unify our creative professions.

Most importantly the value of this exhibition lies in its speculative quality in offering new approaches to how we might orchestrate our domestic landscape. It is significant to how we might generate solutions to challenges that are part of the larger project that defines our collective setting on this planet.