“I hunt deeper into “my treasure land” for ’Paradise’, a series of new works continuing my practice of transforming the everyday and mundane into the fantastical and spectacular. In these works I step outside of performance and video and venture into the process of object making and assemblage of found domestic objects.
Paradise presents miniature landscapes built out of found and collected vintage glassware, ceramic animals, de-assembled jewellery and hand formed ceramic pieces made during a recent artist residency with ceramicist Lynda Draper at Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Gymea TAFE ceramics studio. They express a desire to explore memory, sentimentality and materialistic value through aesthetic, form and materiality of the objects we find in our homes. The objects are assembled to disregard their functionality and showcase their aesthetic qualities and design. To enhance their beauty and ability to story-tell.
The many ways in which we ascribe or vest value in an object are canvassed in the assemblages of Jodie Whalen. With the change of context comes alteration of meaning and significance and values. Her unselfconsciously feminine shrines manifest a collapsing of social, personal and monetary values. Jodie, an only child, was often taken to places and on visits where there were only adults where she sought solace playing and interacting with available objects such as her grandmother’s china and glassware and ornaments and nick-nacks. Her grandmother died in recent years and these memories are bequeathed with the objects Jodie inherited. These objects and these memories are precious.
Jodie is a collector of glass and animal motif ceramics, confined to those made in Japan post World War II. They are manufactured goods from a time when ‘Made in Japan’ was associated with ’cheap’ and mass-produced. The ceramic hand-made elements made during her Hazelhurst Gallery and Gymea TAFE residency are a very meditative and personal element, adding her hand’s mark to these exotic memorials. The objects or artefacts she creates are part social history, part personal history; memento mori and homage to a beloved grandmother and an amalgam of mass-produced and the authentic, the original and the hand made. They are constructions of loss and love, of items kept for best with those of everyday use.
The individual elements are not permanently glued together, and are boxed and presented with museum style documentation so the collector can share in the performance of personal reinterpreting, re-imagining, recalling, recapturing. Although best known as an accomplished performance artist, Jodie has a history of object making. She studied ceramics in high school and during her undergraduate degree at art school, Performance developed during her post-graduate Master of Arts degree at COFA, University of New South Wales. The performance element continues in the Paradise works; the physical finding, the search, the scouring of op shops and negotiation for desired pieces. The place and put, the arrangement in clusters, the storytelling; all feed her nostalgia and memories and that of the collector.
This exhibition signals an innovation in Jodie Whalen’s practice, creating lasting objects for continual display, displacing her body as object and her custom of performing her individual selves and the ephemerality of performance as the focus.