SITUATE residency through RMIT:ART:INTERSECT

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

Madeleine Thornton-Smith

2018

At the completion of my Honours of Fine Arts degree at RMIT, in 2017, I was awarded the RMIT:ART:INTERSECT SITUATE residency, generously awarded by the RMIT School of Art Bachelor of Art (Fine Art) (Honours). This constituted of a three-month residency in the Fine Arts department at RMIT in mid 2018, and a solo exhibition at SPARE ROOM in 2019.

I spent most of my time at RMIT in the ceramics studio, developing new forms, glazes, and plaster moulds. During the residency, Andrew Tetzlaff, (coordinator of RMIT:ART:INTERSECT) and I had a discussion. Looking over a series of textural ceramic tiles I had made over those last few months, he encouraged me to consider the conceptual notion of 'accumulation' in relation to my art practice. I always knew I was a collector (or hoarder!), having held onto years’ worth of possible art materials in my garage. Since studying ceramics, I developed a penchant for the production of objects. Hand-building a ceramic vessel over several months last year, I started to slip-cast different textures from my studio: bubble-wrap, polystyrene blocks, concrete, acrylic paint, plastic bags. Slip casting involves making a plaster mould of an object, into which liquid clay is poured, creating a replica of the original object. I began casting textures I had accumulated in my studio over time. I added small segments of these textures to the vessel: memories of each surface. 

My art practice has developed out of this accumulation of memory and experience. I began my studies with a major in painting at Monash in my early 20s. Later, as a form of art therapy for myself in my final year, I started a short course in ceramics at a community centre—which later led to a diploma and then Honours in the ceramics department at RMIT. I’ve also studied social work, creative writing, literature, art history, language, history and sociology. All contribute towards an accumulation of knowledge and a building of personal history and experience. After all these years of study, with a particular interest in painting, installation and ceramics, my practice has become focused on challenging what a medium is if its material is subverted. Is a painting still a painting if it’s remediated into clay? Can the plinth itself become the art object instead of simply operating as an invisible support?

(adapted from essay by Madeleine Thornton-Smith, Accumulating the Medium' - accompanying the exhibition at SPARE ROOM, 2019)

Images by Madeleine Thornton-Smith

Madeleine Thornton-Smith

Accumulating the Medium, 2019

© 2020 Madeleine Thornton-Smith 

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