Way With Words

The long light, the glittering road.

'Midnight Beacon' (detail) by Ian Robertson
‘Midnight Beacon’ (detail) by Ian Robertson

This week I’m looking forward to the launch of an exhibition that I’m a part of – the end result of a project that has unfolded over a number of months. Wordsmith is an exercise in pairing artists with writers, and I was honoured to be invited to take part by curator Sarah Norris (no relation!) To begin, Sarah asked each writer for a submission, and the guidelines were wide open. In what could have been misconstrued as a kind of brattish move (unintended) I submitted a single line of text. Sarah paired each written submission with one of her selected artists, then encouraged us to enter a dialogue with one another, toward the end goal of an artwork (or artworks) in response to the written word.

Sarah handed over my little line to painter Ian Robertson, who I have been acquainted with for years through the art school / gallery circuit. Having just recently moved to Braidwood from Canberra I was sadly unable to join Ian in his M16 studio to contribute more fully as the work unfolded, but we have communicated over email and I am blown away by the beautiful image he has created.

The idea behind this project really struck a chord with me. I gave a brief explanation as to why in my writer’s statement in the exhibition’s accompanying catalogue:

I studied painting at art school, and so badly wanted to be an artist. But making art didn’t come easily to me – not like writing did. I thought in words and phrases, not images. I would sit in my studio and fill my sketchbooks and canvases with lines of text. ‘It’s not really painting, is it?’ my sympathetic and long-suffering lecturer would say. I tried so hard to make those words into artworks, but nothing translated properly.

Now I do write, but there are often single lines left lying around. For the Wordsmith project Ian Robertson has turned one of these orphans into a luscious painting – the way I have never been able.

The exhibition launches 6pm this Thursday 21 August, and continues until 7 September at M16 Artspace. See the M16 site for more information.

The other participating artists and writers are Gina Wyatt, Jacklyn Peters, Julian Laffan, Caren Florance, Sarah Rice, Nigel Featherstone, and CJ Bowerbird. Thrilled to be in such great Canberra-region company!




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    • Sorry to leave you hanging Kristian! For you and my out of town friends, I have added the line up top of the image. All the text works will be exhibited as part of the show. x


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