The lost and found in decoration & ornamentation a studio exploration of memory, shadow, repetition and transformation

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Campbell, Megan ORCID: 0000-0002-5442-5421 (2003) The lost and found in decoration & ornamentation a studio exploration of memory, shadow, repetition and transformation. Research Master thesis, Monash University.


The Lost and Found in Decoration & Ornamentation:a studio exploration of memory, shadow, repetition and transformation explores, through the making of visual works and a contextual examination of relevant artists and writers, the proposition that both the physical world and the metaphysical universe are shaped by the whisper of memories. It is my belief that ideas and memories are frequently lost in one plane, only to be discovered in a new form on a fresh plane. This is the whisper of memory murmured into new physical forms. It is, for example, the secondary presence of the everyday embroidery that tumbles out of the cupboard like emotions. I explore the lost and found, the before and after, the non-linear path of memories, of items long lost or ideas forgotten reawakened in found objects. Fragments of china and shards of glass emerge from the dusty earth to be found long after their owners have disappeared and their original purpose was lost. Time, for these changed memories of lost lives, has not moved on, it has just moved. The marks and patterns I make are evocations of people no longer present, of functions no longer relevant. They represent the decorative in a domestic context; the patterns on china, carpets, curtains, the fabric of clothing. These marks and patterns are set in the landscape of memory and changed perception. And in the Australian landscape, which, while bleached and rusted in its dusty exterior, is in the homely interior lushly brushed with the fecundity of English and Oriental imagery – imaginings of an un-experienced world, and memories waiting to be found. In my artworks materials are sought for their quality, texture, domestic usage and opportunity for ornamentation and pattern, all of which I use to enrich the work and contribute to a new vocabulary. I strive to create a challenge to the obvious or immediate impression by using contradictory techniques or materials that cause the familiar to become something more difficult to decipher, investing the commonplace with the unsettling. Since each material selected has been chosen for its intrinsic nature, common usage and/or its relevance to the artwork itself, each layer of meaning adds to the overall voice of the piece. Materials include cast liquid latex, flywire, embroidery thread, plastic and metal kitchen scourers, safety pins and sewing pins. The artworks, which very often take the form of unwearable garments, use collected materials, scale and form to push the poetic possibilities of expression on the surface or hidden within ornamentation, embellishing the work and the meaning. Through the individual forms or materials (such as safety pins) used in my sculptures, I work to create a pattern that becomes the point of focus in the work. It is this strange tension between the beauty and banality of the actual material that creates the paradox between the everyday nature of a product such as flywire or safety pins and the visceral and perceptual reading of the viewer. Essentially, the artworks and the words explore the conversation between an external masculine world and its changing relationship to the new vocabulary emerging on the inside. Outside, rusted flywire—that symbol of separation between the outside and inside—is lost to the large world only to re-emerge on the inside with new purpose in the shape of a female garment. While the original function is lost, the memories survive, constantly rediscovered as gendered metaphors. This is the vocabulary of woman; filled with the language of yearning and hope, of an indestructible spirit. This exegesis probes, both figuratively and literally, the before and after. It explores the thinking, the writing, the artists and the artworks that have come before, placing them in a context for my own work and it discovers how my own work may have extended what came before and what has been found anew. It does this within the context of the themes central to my work: the memory; shadow; repetitive action; the transformation of the everyday, the ordinary, the mundane; and the dialogue between textures.

Additional Information

Master of Fine Arts
Full-text is not available from this Repository

Item type Thesis (Research Master thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1905 Visual Arts and Crafts
Current > Division/Research > College of Arts and Education
Keywords Decoration; Memory; Ornamentation
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