Congratulations Kirsty Lillico for winning the Parkin Drawing Prize this year for her work State Block, and to the judges for selecting a work that challenges the idea of what a drawing constitutes. I also take my hat off to Chris Parkin for giving artists a platform to test ideas and showcase their work. The prize money’s not bad either!
This year’s Parkin Drawing Prize has garnered the usual mix of reviews (both positive and negative) on social media, via word of mouth and through other channels as well. I’m all for opening up a dialogue, debating and voicing opinions, it’s healthy and critical analysis can often benefit the artist in the development of their work and practice. Then there’s the “other” feedback, banal comments and verbal tripe that lacks any constructive substance. I think it’s important a few things be said that the internet trolls and disser’s out there need to take onboard.
It takes courage for an artist to put their work out into the public arena, especially if it challenges conventions and mainstream thinking. Artists pour a lot of angst, passion and energy into their work, investigating and researching directions rigorously. Often the subject matter can be personal and revealing, but whether this is conveyed in an obvious or covert manner is up to the artist. Visitors to the Parkin Drawing Prize exhibition (on at the Academy Galleries in Wellington) will notice there isn’t much – if any – support material to accompany the artworks, it’s more about what’s in front of you than what’s behind the work. But rest assured, there usually is a backstory and solid reasoning behind every work that is worth the time to unravel. To have your work exhibited for all to critique, without explanation is daunting for an artist, but at the same time, it can be liberating. This lack of additional information is good and bad, it does make it harder for the viewer to fully understand the artist’s intention and thinking behind a work, but being free to make your own mind up, without the influence of the artist nattering in your ear is important too. The selection panel and judges of the Parkin Drawing Prize may have had some support material to base their decisions on, so they do have an advantage over the casual observer, but being made up of industry experts, including curators, art dealers and artists, their decision on who and what denotes a winner, wouldn’t be based on controversy or on a whim, at least I doubt it? Whether you like a work or not is beside the point, but if it leaves an impression, pushes and prods, annoys and niggles, makes you angry, confused or brings forth any other kind of emotion, I'd be happy with that.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but I challenge those out there who go by first impressions and are swayed by general consensus, to push the boat out, take off the floaties and dive into the deep end, remove those safety goggles and think not “what the fuck”, but why? You might just surprise yourself and learn something new in the process? Also, for artists stuck in a rut with their work, step out of your comfort zone and try something different, don't do work you think will please people or that will look good on a living room wall, do it for yourself.
On that note, I leave a parting gift, the making of my submission for this year’s Parking Drawing Prize (Love marks – The Glendavar Street session), I didn’t do it alone, in fact, I didn’t really do it at all.
Artist statement for Love marks – The Glendavar Street session
Love is a complicated thing. This four-letter word maybe small, but its meaning and interpretation is great. There’s first love, true love, erotic love, forbidden love, self love, unconditional love, tough love, enduring love, everlasting love, love for music, love for cars, love for cheesecake, the language of love…like I said, it’s a complicated thing. Love marks – The Glendavar Street session explores a love that has a myriad of loves all wrapped up in one. A push/pull kind of love that has excitement sitting right alongside anger and balancing unpredictably on top of joy. The performance recording and carbon transfer captured as a result of this love is raw, honest and at times a little spooky, but gives the viewer an alternative reading of the traditional interpretation of love.