I have been arguing that the most important factor in contemporary art is meaning. The meaning is often produced through the contexts of the artwork. To show how artwork can create meaning, I use my own work created to celebrate the Archibald Prize Exhibition 2015 at the Art Galley of Ballarat.
My original inspiration come from Self Portraits by Frida Kahlo (1907-1954). In her works Frida herself is in the midst of lush green foliage, flowers, birds and monkeys. It seems to me that the forest behind her represents an ideal state of spiritual freedom that is in contrast to her physically tormented reality. The role of nature in these works resonated for me as I am always interested in the relationship between humans and the natural world.
I chose chicken wire to create a head, which in some ways resembles a cage. The chicken wire as well as the metal frame within creates a separation between the inner space and the unlimited freedom outside the work. In the back of my mind I also had some images of refugees who are sometimes kept in cage like circumstances, dreaming of the freedom that lies outside the cage. Although birds are usually kept inside a wire cage, you may see them enjoying themselves outside the cage in this work.
After overcoming many obstacles in making this work, I was relieved to hear so much positive feedback. Following success in this project, I am fortunate to be commissioned to create another large work for the Lorne Sculpture in March 2016.