Rosie Lloyd-Giblett
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Opening night speech by Joolie Gibbs, Coordinator Gympie Regional Gallery, July 2014. Bones and Bouquets part 2.

Opening Speech for Rosie Lloyd-Giblett

Cooroy Butter Factory, 18 July 2014

Bones and Bouquets Stage 2

Firstly I thank Rosie for inviting me to speak at her opening. It is an honour to have someone ask you to do this, and I hope I can do Rosie’s work justice.

As mentioned in the invite, Rosie’s last exhibition was held at the Gympie Regional Gallery, the start of her Bones and Bouquet series.

This exhibition continued with her exploration of personal artifacts relating to memory and her concern for the natural environment and has been pushed even further with this exhibition – Stage 2.

Rosie sees the bones as a metaphor for memory and reflection, and the bouquets, the flora we collect and often place in remembrance of loved ones.

Rosie was demonstrating her link to the environment, the environment of her youth, the environment that has left traces in her memory that she finds hard to dismiss…… and that link has persisted in this series, and even more so because it draws on her pastoral heritage in a different way. Here she is coming to terms with a sense of loss for that environment that is changing physically through the onslaught of mining. It will never be the same again. We are seeing this over and over again in so many places, in so many different ways.

Alathough commenting on a national or even international issue, Rosie has bought this back to her personal reaction. This is Rosie’s heritage and this means something to her. These are her connections, And it is this concern that she is subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) inviting the viewer to come along the journey with her, to feel what she feels, even if it is only for a wee bit and may even be at a different level each time.

I was reading an article on conversations by various Australian landscape artists that was on the ABC and one was by John McDonald, a Sydney Morning Herald art Critic, who said "It might sound romantic, but there is a deep spiritual need for landscape, it gives us a sense of belonging. It reminds us of our relationship to a particular place, and if we don’t have that relationship to place, then we feel slightly alienated, de-centred."

It is a common thing for contemporary artists to continually reflect on their relationship with the land, and share these concerns for its destruction. Another Australian artist Mandy Martin thinks our art should stand for something.

Is it not the role of the artist to raise these issues of the environment? And shouldn’t art be entering these strong debates, and engaging with social issues of the day? Associate professor at QCA, Ross Woodrow says "Contemporary art is often seen as a powerful metaphoric means to make a difficult, challenging and important issue accessible, digestible or understandable."

Rosie, like many other artists, is defining her practice through the regional landscape. From the Macro level of looking at the bigger picture to the micro of dealing with the local issues and personal stuff.

And looking down at the ground is where Rosie has placed her subjects. The skyline is not always evident, like she is drilling down herself to the issues of most concern, that which is closest to her. We are looking into the story, and being eyeballed by skulls in an almost questioning gaze or stare, as we see the dichotomy of the situation. Have we caused this ruination, or has nature just done her thing?

Bones are a repeated motif in her work, and bones themselves can be symbols for many things.

They signify the rural life, the remote, the harshness of weather, death and decay, the bare bones of truth. They are seen at the most elemental level, in other words, how we look when stripped to the bone, exposing ourselves to the elements, to ridicule, to anything the world throws at us. They are or were a support structure for a once living body, giving strength, balance and structure. In the Australian context of the old rural idyll, they tell of extreme weather, and sometimes seen as a narrative for failure or even carnage. In Rosie’s works they become the figure in the environment, in what seems like an archeological dig site, surrounded by colour and decorative natural forms. They sit beside and in old battered suitcases, creating a domestic link. Are they bones of contention as Rosie has asked previously?

The suitcases could be holding the memories that Rosie took away when leaving this country, the heritage, the smells, the baubles and the dreams and aspirations. The connections to those who have travelled there from other places to start with, and those who have travelled away. We come and we go, and sometimes the land takes over, as the grass grows into the suitcases, blending into one, as we sink into the ground to be truly connected to place. The suitcases read for me as links to our colonial explorer past, and question ownership of property, and the effect of human presence in the environment. There are several layers of meaning in these works if you want to delve deeper.

But Rosie’s colourful works, that you feel that you could almost smell belie the message she is telling, like a false security. They might be beautiful colours and images, but there is more to it than that. In her last exhibition she questioned "Are we just dust, bone and broken bouquets or can we leave positive imprints?" This statement is still relevant in this work.

Rosie like many contemporary artists, is making her protest, and I hope you get to talk to her about this, and look at her works with this in mind.

As artist, Geoff Levitus says "As long as the artist finds the landscape as an appropriate vehicle in which to that research and exploration, then potentially the power of the landscape remains."

With that I congratulate Rosie on her second exhibition, (this girl doesn’t waste any time), as I officially open Bones and Bouquets Stage 2.

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(1,000 words)