Flash Trash officially opens Sunday 17 September at Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery and continues until 22 October 2006. I have made new work from old vinyl records collected from Toowoomba Dump and mentioned this work before on my blog here and here. Strangely enough it is through my blog that the idea grew when I followed one of those white rabbits down a hole!
Nana, Nana, Nana is made from 15 old vinyl records found at the Toowoomba Dump Lifeline store and zeros in on one of them- the ‘Delightful Nana Mouskouri’. I used this one Nana LP to reflect on the transience of technology, fame, and culture that once held value but are discarded and forgotten by the each new generation. I was influenced by the buried headstone fragments that I found at the dump, black polished granite memento mori poking from the compacted dirt! The similar blackness of the vinyl records is mournful, its message lost especially after I have worked it. We are reminded that our daily competitive struggles for status, fame and recognition are insignificant in the vastness of time and meaningless in the face of imminent death after which we are dust, our achievements forgotten. This is something that was bought home to me in the books of Alain de Botton who suggested that the way that Romans and Victorians used reminders of death and time as techniques to moderate Status Anxiety could be useful for some of us in our daily lives. I took a lighthearted approach though with this Nana project.
Nana 1. The records that I found were most likely taken to the dump by relatives of a recently deceased person.Perhaps a Grandmother- Nana or a Granny. I thought about the cathartic practice of frisbeeing old records at the dump. Getting rid of the clutter and material possessions of the past generation. Though these records had not been frisbeed. They were in good condition in their original sleeves. Each was respectfully listened to by me prior to destruction and a few were even salvaged.
Nana 2. Nana Beads. One of the records was of Nana Mouskouri who was my 1st pop culture idol. At the age of 3 I loved to dress in my long string of large wooden beads that my own Granny helped me to make and dance to a record pretending that I was Nana. So this is personal nostalgia in making the beads as long as the floor length beads that I wore long ago. Nana Beads were made by hand sawing circles of vinyl Nana + other records and heating them in the oven on glass sheets at various temperature and various lengths of time to create the different effects. Even though I cut perfect circles and filed and sanded them all neatly, they all distorted in different ways. Each record is different- has a different melting point and reacts differently to the heat. So the process was quite organic and interesting. Some shrink and thicken up more than others. I was interested in making them pod-like as if they contain a youthfulness and range of possibilities that is part of my nostalgia when imagining being 3 years old.Nana Beads is what we call the cheap plastic beads as often worn by senior women- the thread in them is glued to the bead itself- Liana Kabel and Mark Vaarwerk have both used them creatively in their innovative plastic jewellery. I used this idea as wordplay for the construction of the work which has more of an organic look than mass produced plastic bead look to it. I was also interested in Art Deco plastic jewellery of and have adopted some of these design ideas with the red and black colours and the style of catch.
Nana 3. The thick black-rimmed rectangular trademark glasses of Mouskouri. I have heat-imprinted different heritage glass patterns on the sawn out shapes of Nana’s glasses. Another wordplay pun here but also referencing the transience of human objects through the old decorative coloured glass which, like vinyl records is no longer manufactured on the same scale or in the case of the glass, to the same quality as in the past. Initially disappointed that I did not find any heritage glass at the Toowoomba dump to work with, I was pleased to find a way to use it in my Flash Trash work.The pins are made from brass and melted skim milk bottle tops imprinted with the decorative glass patterns.I have made 50 frames of different sizes to represent next year’s 50 anniversary of Nana’s professional career.