Apprenticed to Ghosts: accountable for mending shadows. MASK - Conference paper presentation

Julie Montgarrett

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    Apprenticed to Ghosts: accountable for mending
    Author: Julie Montgarrett
    This paper concerns my creative practice as research which questions the received
    histories of the beginnings of settlement of Van Diemen’s Land – 1803-1825. By way of
    drawing and embroidery, I aim to present ‘possibilities from uncertainties’- visual
    narratives like unfinished sentences which aim to unsettle fixed perceptions of the past.
    By questioning the ways that narratives might be constructed to fold back across time I
    hope to reveal worthwhile aspects of the present from visual and material shadows of
    the past; to visually question these connections without falsifying history, to create
    contemporary meanings in ways denied to historians. Like most artists engaged with
    narrative form, my research is fundamentally performative in both its production and
    audience reception. It begins through a process of divergent textual, visual and material
    methodologies which assist the development of a personal language shaped by the
    disciplines and traditions of drawing and embroidery. These strategies generate more
    ‘enquiries’ to be tested visually and materially, returning to critical and textual sources
    to drive the wider research process. These are adaptable methodologies informed,
    challenged, re-directed, and motivated by way of an unpredictable process; a
    contingent, performative practice driven by a circular methodology. My creative
    practice is an ‘attention to the process of creativity’ as defined by Merleau-Ponty. It is a
    form of inquiry into the phenomena of visual narrative through artistic, material and
    aesthetic means. This creative practice-based methodology conceives research as an
    enactive space of living enquiry, a performative, material ‘making visible/tangible’
    production of meaning. According to Barrett and Bolt, ‘ the innovative and critical
    potential of practice-based research lies in its capacity to generate personally situated
    knowledge and new ways of modelling and externalising such knowledge while at the
    same time, revealing philosophical, social and cultural contexts for the critical
    intervention and application of knowledge outcomes.’ Further, they refer to knowledge
    that arises through intuitive understanding closely related to Bourdieu’s theories of a
    logic of practice, of ‘being in the game’ where strategies are not pre-determined but
    emerge and operate according to specific actions and movements in time. As such my
    works emerge slowly through the research process. They don’t appear immediately like
    photographs; they evolve unpredictably, reliant on particular material encounters and
    chance occurrences that emerge from process. Form and content are gleaned and cross
    referenced visually, materially, and textually through wider research and reading as
    much as the process of making to generate often unforeseen narratives, meanings and
    outcomes. Significantly the methodology of the artist is driven by trial and error and is
    profoundly reliant on ‘process’ as well as speculation, or asking the question, ‘what if?’.
    Or perhaps better still, as Samuel Beckett said, ‘Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Fail
    again. Fail Better.’
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-27
    Number of pages27
    JournalFusion Journal
    Publication statusPublished - 2015
    EventMASK symposium: Performance/Performativity/Communication - Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, Australia
    Duration: 16 Apr 201517 Apr 2015


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