Viva la Domestics!
Today was a day for tidying up in the studio. Tomorrow I will be joined by a choreographer from Portugal who I hope will bring another way of thinking through movement to this artist space. So I picked up all the discarded pieces of cardboard, brought out the broom and started to tidy up.
It’s a good process of reassessment as I pulled down all the phone book pages I had written on and decided that I just liked the paper grocery bags as little word flags. I have a stack collected from all the food we have bought here in Lasalle and Isis has been collecting bags for me as well. I love the way everything comes in paper bags here in France. No plastic bags even at the small supermarket. Paper everywhere with pictures and words declaring goodness and bounty. I started out keeping them to add interesting elements to my collages but they are so colourful and joyous I wanted to hang them up as flags instead.
The bags are mostly different, bags for vegetables and bread, different ones from different shops, crumpled from use and stained with oil or butter, yet they are beautiful and deserved some attention. Out came the iron and of course I started to think of my mother and how, when I was a child, I longed to do as she did. I wanted to do be a big girl, responsible enough to help with this important job, the ironing.
I can vividly remember her setting up the ironing board in the tiny TV room which was the warmest part of our suburban home in Melbourne, Victoria. I would be allowed to iron the handkerchiefs, and sometimes even the tea towels! I can’t imagine doing something like that now. We lived without mains electricity for over ten years when the children were small. Any clothes which were absolutely essential to be ironed were delivered rumpled to the ironing lady and received back crisp and fresh for $5 a basket the next week. Oh, the joy of having ironed clothes to put away and never needing to iron myself.
Now I think about this as I carefully iron the paperbags and peg them on a line against the windows. All those small domestics remind me of my mother. Weaving, sewing, knitting, cooking; my mother was a whizz and I was never particularly interested. Yet sewing paper, weaving bits of carboard, tearing paper up and gluing it down….these things fire my imagination.
This afternoon the town square filled with people as we watched and cheered for France in the grand final of the FIFA world cup soccer match. When the final minutes ticked over and it was obvious that Croatia were not going to score in time, the crowd erupted into cheers, crackers were lit, confetti thrown, it was exciting to be there at that moment with those people sharing the excitement. Via la France!
This project was assisted by a grant from Create NSW, an agency of the New South WalesGovernment. The NSW Artists' Grant is administered by the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA).