Stills: Loie, Pixie, Sarah, Lilith and Artemisia
An installation of large-scale photographs printed on wall-paper honouring five women’s legacies of joy and resistance, rage and revolution.
Hannah Gartside’s textile creations turn garments of clothing into tools of resistance. Each sculpture, presented through large-scale photographs printed on wall-paper, honours a remarkable woman: the artist and Tarot card illustrator Pixie Colman Smith (1878–1951), the painter Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–1656), the performance artist and pioneer of lighting design Loïe Fuller (1862–1928), the actress and theatre owner Sarah Bernhardt (1844–1923), and the Biblical ur-woman, Lilith.
Here these uncanny outfits take on a life of their own. “It’s as if the clothes are sick of being blamed — ‘What was she wearing?’ —they fight back,” says the artist… a flinging off of the mud that sticks with every revolution.
Each sculpture, presented here through large-scale photographs printed on wall-paper, honours a remarkable woman: the artist and Tarot card illustrator Pixie Colman Smith (1878–1951), the painter Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–1656), the performance artist and pioneer of lighting design Loïe Fuller (1862–1928), the actress and theatre owner Sarah Bernhardt (1844–1923), and the Biblical ur-woman, Lilith. I became fascinated with these individuals because of the way they lived: their self-sovereignty, intuition and subversion, and their ability to work around and outside of, or co-opt for their own purposes, what you could call the ‘conditions of femininity’ of their time.
Like many people, I was rattled by Brittany Higgins’ allegations made public in early 2021 of the abuse that she suffered in parliament house. An example (not that we needed another one) that the mistreatment of women is part of this country's culture at even the highest level of governance. I made these sculptures to honour these five women’s legacies of rage and righteousness, and to show support for the women pushing the cultural tide against misogyny and disrespect today. I honour these women's agency and anger, and encourage the viewer to channel that power in their own lives.
Here at Arts House, I am using images of these sculptures– captured in their relentless, motor-driven motion, to spin the historic town hall building from the inside out. I want to fill the walls with some of their sensorial majesty and bravura.
With my large-scale sculptures and installations, viewers walk around or within the artwork, instead of standing still in front of it. My experience is that three-dimensional work lends itself particularly to being sensed, or felt and understood, through and in relation to our bodies. Here, a unique challenge and opportunity presented itself: to use the internal walls and the ground level ceiling of the building as the physical framework for holding up the imagery. So in effect, viewers can move through the space as if through an installation... you turn/ the images appear to turn around you.
These photographs capture imagery of my sculptures at the Museum of Contemporary Art as part of Primavera 2021: Young Australian Artists, curated by Hannah Presley, showing until 12 June 2022.
About the artist
Gartside graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art at QUT (Fashion Design, Honours) in 2010, followed by a BFA at VCA (Sculpture, Honours) in 2019. Prior to her visual art training Gartside worked as ballet and theatre costumier. Her work has been exhibited in galleries and museums nationally. Solo exhibitions include: Fantasies 2, Ararat Gallery TAMA, 2019; Fantasies, Metro Arts, 2018; and Felt and Held, George Paton Gallery, 2016. Recent group exhibitions include: Primavera: Young Australian Artists, Museum of Contemporary Art, 2021; Fresh Materials: New Australian Textile Art, Townsville City Galleries, 2021; Making Art Work, Institute of Modern Art, 2020; Performing Textiles, Ian Potter Museum, 2019; Four Letter Word, Artbank, 2019. Her work is held in the Artbank and Wangaratta Art Gallery collections and in private collections. She is represented by Tolarno Galleries.
Metal fabrication and electromechanical design and fabrication: Laundromat MFG
Programming: Dan Parkinson
Artist: Hannah Gartside
Images courtesy the artist and Tolarno Galleries
Image Credit: Artemisia (detail), 2022, digitally layered photo, courtesy the artist and Tolarno Galleries
Image Description: This image is a crop of a photograph of the underneath of a metal and fabric kinetic sculpture sited in a gallery space. The sculpture has strips of red, burgundy and dark pink velvet splaying out in a circle from three aluminium central hubs, the effect is like a sunrise.