Earth Canvas – Looking at the Overlooked

Looking at the Overlooked is the artwork I made for the Earth Canvas Exhibition at Mildura Arts Centre, 8 October – 28 November 2021. I was paired up with Food Next Door Co-Op, a regenerative farm which works with the Burundian and Congalese communities in Mildura to create a work in response to their farming practices. (See previous post.)

Looking at the Overlooked, installation view at Mildura Arts Centre. Pastel and coloured pencil on paper, 70h x 250w cm

Looking at the Overlooked, installation view at Mildura Arts Centre. Pastel and coloured pencil on paper, 70h x 250w cm

This is the first time that I have incorporated coloured pencil with my pastel drawings to create even more detail and texture.The bugs in the middle panel reference the insects that are returning to the land once chemicals are no longer used and the soil is regenerated. The dragonfly, wanderer butterfly and earthworm are all directly connected with the farm and the return of insect which are not in competition with the produce. The cicada, as much as it is the sound of summer in Mildura, is a reference to Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), a German born naturalist and scientific illustrator who drew plants with specific interest in insects. The cicada is taken from one of her works, Branch of Pomegranate with Lnterfly and Cicada, 1702-03. It is a homage to her influence on my creative practice.

Looking at the Overlooked. Detail, Dragonfly, Cicada, Butterfly and Earthworm

Looking at the Overlooked. Detail, Dragonfly, Cicada, Butterfly and Earthworm

I included the Slant Faced Grasshopper, after Peter Webb, Grower’s Mentor at the Food Next Door Co-Op showed me a picture he had taken of the grasshopper on the farm. At that point I was not sure what kind of grasshopper it was. But I was so excited to include something so personal and specific in the drawing.

Looking at the Overlooked. Detail, Slant Faced Grasshopper

Looking at the Overlooked. Detail, Slant Faced Grasshopper

 

Images that I told whilst researching at Food Next Door Co-Op in the lead up to the creation of the work.

Food Next Door Co-Op - in progress

Food Next Door Co-Op – in progress

Food Next Door Co-Op - plantings

Food Next Door Co-Op – plantings

Food Next Door Co-Op - shed

Food Next Door Co-Op – shed

 

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Earth Canvas – Mildura Arts Centre, 8 October – 28 November 2021

The Earth Canvas exhibition has been touring regional galleries through out Victoria and New South Wales. There are seven core artists involved in the exhibition who were connected to regenerative farms.Rosalind Atkins – Wearn Family at Yammacoona, Little Billabong, Jo Davenport – Austin Family at Mundarlo, Mundarlo, Jenny Bell – Couglan Family at Mt Nara Narra, Holbrook, Idris Murphy, the Goghlan Family at Erimbla, Gerogery, John Wolseley – Gillian Sandbrook at Bibbaringa, Bowna, Janet Laurence – Rebecca Gorman and Family at Yapbtree West, Mundarlo and Tony Nott

Earth Canvas Catalogue

Earth Canvas Catalogue

 

Earth Canvas Catalogue

Earth Canvas Catalogue

At each regional location a local artist is invited to participate in the exhibition and is connected to a local regenerative farm. I was invited to participate in the exhibition at Mildura Arts Centre and was connected to Food Next Door who also administers the Out of the Box project

“Food Next Door matches under-utilised farmland with landless farmers to support small-scale regenerative farming, growing diverse crops & engaging people from diverse backgrounds to supply food to local households”.

Looking at the Overlooked, installation view at Mildura Arts Centre. Pastel and coloured pencil on paper, 70h x 250w cm

Looking at the Overlooked, installation view at Mildura Arts Centre. Pastel and coloured pencil on paper, 70h x 250w cm

I met with the farmers Joselyn Majambere and Joel Sindayingaya from the Burundian community and in particular Peter Webb, the Grower’s Mentor who worked on returning the land to its organic and biodynamic state. In speaking with Peter Webb I connected to the regeneration of the soil and the removal of chemicals which meant that many of the insects were returning to the earth and in particular the earth worms. I became really interested in how important the small things are to balance and nurture in the process of organic farming.

Artist Statement for Earth Canvas – Born in Mildura to Italian immigrant parents, artist Filomena Coppola’s practice extends from large pastel drawings to detailed miniatures through which she explores issues of cultural identity, place, connection to the feminine, mother earth and matriarchal lore.

Inspired by the work of Food Next Door and their connection with the Burundian and Congalese farmers who have added a new cultural richness to the Mildura region through food production, an aspect which is reflected in the Italian community of Mildura. The regenerative farming practices inspired Filomena to explore the complexity and richness that is returned to the land when farming and nature find equilibrium.

The farmers connect to the land as they nurture, sow care for and harvest produce, they sing; connecting to each other, the land, plants and animals. Her work Looking at the Overlooked explores natures response, beneath the wings of a bee we find butterflies, grasshoppers, lady beetles, dragon flies, cidadas and the important earthworm signifying health, balance, nature celebrating and being nurtured.

From the Earth Canvas catalogue – “In Australia, the way we produce food and fibre has come to rely increasingly on industrial principles of production. This approach has led to many environmental and human health losses.

Regenerative agriculture is emerging as an alternative approach. Its principles focus on the health of nature and the people, and on how all things are interconnected. It is more than sustainability; it is the active rebuilding oor regenerating of an ecosystem towards full health.

The Earth Canvas project invited contemporary artists to work on regenerative farms between the Murray and Murrumidgee rivers in southern New South Wales. The project aimed to link the artist’ perspective on land with the farmers’ management of the land. What was revealed was a mutal creativity of approach and deep empathy with the landscape.

This exhibition explores the experiences of both the regenerative farmer and the artist, their respective engagement with the land and their vision for a healthier world”.

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Covid Quilt – Ring of Steel, Lockdown 2, Victoria

This work is a direct response to the closed borders and the ring of steel that was imposed around metropolitan Melbourne. During this time I was in Mildura looking after elderly parents in a border community, where a bridge connected the town to New South Wales, and South Australia was only 100km away. I could return to my home in Melbourne, but the ring of steel would prevent me returning to Mildura should my parents require urgent attention. As restrictions eased for border communities my Melbourne address would prevent me crossing in to New South Wales. I was landlocked.

I did not post this last year and have posted it today as we are in the middle of – hopefully – a third “short sharp circuit breaker”, with Stage 4 restrictions across all of Victoria. This is Lockdown 3.0 in VIctoria.

Covid Quilt –  Ring of Steel (front) 15.5 x 15.5 cm, Cotton thread on paper, 2020 (Lockdown 2)

Covid Quilt – Ring of Steel (front) 15.5 x 15.5 cm, Cotton thread on paper, 2020 (Lockdown 2)

Covid Quilt – Ring of Steel (back) 15.5 x 15.5 cm, Cotton thread on paper, 2020 (Lockdown 2)

Covid Quilt – Ring of Steel (back) 15.5 x 15.5 cm, Cotton thread on paper, 2020 (Lockdown 2)

 

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Covid Hands

Home – not home. I left my home in Melbourne and travelled to Mildura before the first imposed lockdown to spend this time with my elderly parents. This work was made within the restrictions of this lockdown, the photographs are taken with my old iPhone and worked with needle and thread. Covid Hands is an observation of familial ties, of hands that work, create, nurture and support. Each of the twenty words is stitched into the photographs, across the hand in red thread. Red – representing the ancestral bloodline. Like a tattooed stigmata, these hands are marked by the words, in the same way that our corporeal bodies will carry an imprint of the trauma and isolation imposed by Covid-19.

This work was commissioned by Arts Mildura and exhibited in Home2020.

 

Covid Hands – Installation View. Red thread stitched onto photographic paper. 20 images each 25.5h x 20 w cm, overall dimensions 55h x 300w cm

Covid Hands – Installation View. Red thread stitched onto photographic paper. 20 images each 25.5h x 20 w cm, overall dimensions 55h x 300w cm

Covid Hands – family (detail). Red thread stitched onto photographic paper. 20 images each 25.5h x 20 w cm, overall dimensions 55h x 300w cm

Covid Hands – family (detail). Red thread stitched onto photographic paper. 20 images each 25.5h x 20 w cm, overall dimensions 55h x 300w cm

 

Covid Hands – corona (detail). Red thread stitched onto photographic paper. 20 images each 25.5h x 20 w cm, overall dimensions 55h x 300w cm

Covid Hands – corona (detail). Red thread stitched onto photographic paper. 20 images each 25.5h x 20 w cm, overall dimensions 55h x 300w cm

 

Covid Hands – culture(detail). Red thread stitched onto photographic paper. 20 images each 25.5h x 20 w cm, overall dimensions 55h x 300w cm

Covid Hands – culture (detail). Red thread stitched onto photographic paper. 20 images each 25.5h x 20 w cm, overall dimensions 55h x 300w cm

 

Covid Hands – touch (detail). Red thread stitched onto photographic paper. 20 images each 25.5h x 20 w cm, overall dimensions 55h x 300w cm

Covid Hands – touch (detail). Red thread stitched onto photographic paper. 20 images each 25.5h x 20 w cm, overall dimensions 55h x 300w cm

 

Covid Hands – chance (detail). Red thread stitched onto photographic paper. 20 images each 25.5h x 20 w cm, overall dimensions 55h x 300w cm

Covid Hands – chance (detail). Red thread stitched onto photographic paper. 20 images each 25.5h x 20 w cm, overall dimensions 55h x 300w cm

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Covid Quilt – Pacing, Lockdown 2, Victoria

Covid Quilt – Pacing is a work made during Victoria’s second lockdown, a lockdown more isolating than the first, entered into still exhausted from Lockdown 1, and knowing as Victorians we were on our own. Not only in lockdown but with borders closed – disconnected. This work is a reflection of this time, pacing back and forth, waiting for numbers to drop, waiting for restrictions to lift, waiting for borders to open … waiting and pacing.

Covid Quilt – Pacing  (front) 15.5 x 15.5 cm, Cotton thread on paper, 2020 (Lockdown 2).

Covid Quilt – Pacing (front) 15.5 x 15.5 cm, Cotton thread on paper, 2020 (Lockdown 2)

Covid Quilt – Pacing  (back) 15.5 x 15.5 cm, Cotton thread on paper, 2020 (Lockdown 2)

Covid Quilt – Pacing (back) 15.5 x 15.5 cm, Cotton thread on paper, 2020 (Lockdown 2)

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Covid Quilt – Spiral, Lockdown 1, Victoria

The spiral represents continuity, that even through this feels so new and extraordinary to us, we know that mother earth has experienced something like this before and moved through it. Shadowed by the spiral is the earth (our hemisphere) as seen from space. Graduating tonally from blood red to indigo – the colours of a bruise – a maker acknowledging the grief, restrictions and isolation that we are enduring.

This is a small work I made in response to the first lockdown in Melbourne for the instragram page @covid19quilt which organised and administered by Kate Just @katjustknits and Tal Fitzpatrick @talfitzpatrick.

Covid Quilt - spiral (front) 15.5 x 15.5 cm, Cotton thread on paper, 2020 (Lockdown 1).

Covid Quilt – spiral (front) 15.5 x 15.5 cm, Cotton thread on paper, 2020 (Lockdown 1).

 

Covid Quilt - spiral (back) 15.5 x 15.5 cm, Cotton thread on paper, 2020 (Lockdown 1).

Covid Quilt – spiral (back) 15.5 x 15.5 cm, Cotton thread on paper, 2020 (Lockdown 1).

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Rita Wilson speaking about my work in Genova, Italy

Honoured to have Rita Wilson, Monash University include my work, specifically the Earthly Tales exhibition, in her talk Re-Framing Narratives of Migrant Heritage as part of the session panel Visualizing a Living Heritage: Italian Transcultural Practices in Australia as part of Between Immigration and Historical Amnesia, MUMA Instituzione Museo del Mare e delle Migrazioni, Genova. Artworks: Summer Solstice 2013-2021, Fish out of Water Interventions – Rainfall, Fish out of Water – Murray Cod.

Rita Wilson, Monash University.

Rita Wilson, Monash University.

 

Installation View: Fish out of Water – Murray Cod 9 redgum shelves individually etched, 9 colour photographs, 9 petrified redgum forms and gouache. Each component measures, approximately 23h x 30w x 25d cm, 2015

Installation View: Fish out of Water – Murray Cod
9 redgum shelves individually etched, 9 colour photographs, 9 petrified redgum forms and gouache. Each component measures, approximately 23h x 30w x 25d cm, 2015

 

Installation View, Fish out of Water – Murray Cod Earthly Tales, Installation view of Fish out of Water – Murray Cod, documentary photos and sculpture installation.

Installation View, Fish out of Water – Murray Cod
Earthly Tales, Installation view of Fish out of Water – Murray Cod, documentary photos and sculpture installation.

 

Detail of Bonegilla, Fish out of Water – Murray Cod 9 redgum shelves individually etched, 9 colour photographs, 9 petrified redgum forms and gouache. Each component measures, approximately 23h x 30w x 25d cm, 2015

Detail of Bonegilla, Fish out of Water – Murray Cod
9 redgum shelves individually etched, 9 colour photographs, 9 petrified redgum forms and gouache. Each component measures, approximately 23h x 30w x 25d cm, 2015

 

Fish out of Water – Murray Cod, Boomanoomana, New South Wales colour photograph, 40h x 60w cm, edition of 6, 2015

Fish out of Water – Murray Cod, Boomanoomana, New South Wales
colour photograph, 40h x 60w cm, edition of 6, 2015

 

Fish out of Water - Summer Solstice 2013 - 2021

Fish out of Water – Summer Solstice 2013 – 2021

 

Fish out of Water – Sabbat Releases 2013/14, Imbloc, Port Melbourne, 2 August 2014

Fish out of Water – Sabbat Releases 2013/14, Imbloc, Port Melbourne, 2 August 2014

Fish out of water Interventions - Fish out of Water – Fishing gouache, gum leaves, and pages from "The Reader's Digest Complete Atlas of Australia" 1968 edition, 12 x 12 cm, 2014

Fish out of water Interventions – Fish out of Water – Fishing gouache, gum leaves, and pages from “The Reader’s Digest Complete Atlas of Australia” 1968 edition, 12 x 12 cm, 2014

 

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Dispore Italiane – Italy in Movement: Between Immigration and Historical Amnesia, 27-29 June 2019, Galata Museo del Mare, Genova Italy.

I presented as part of a panel Panel – Visual and Verbal Memories: Italian Migrant Creativity Across the World. L-R Chair: Prof Fred Gardaphe (USA), John D Calandra Italian American Institute New York. Filomena Coppola (AUS), Luci Callipari-Marcuzzo (AUS), Dr Eliana Maestri (UK), University of Exeter, Prof Loredana Polezzi (UK), Cardiff University and B. Amore (USA) who was represented by a video interview. I spoke about four works, Wallflower – Mirror, rorriM, Chasing the Disappeared, Mother Tongue and Alpha Sound. Conference photo: Christian Marcuzzo

My presentation was a visual exploration of cultural loss in the regional Australian town of Mildura, Victoria.

As a visual artist whose parents migrated from Italy to Australia in the 1950’s, these four artworks attempt to capture the experience of this generation. Many of this aging generation are now passing. They are the cultural bridge between Italy and Australia. With particular attention to language, dislocation, distance and cultural loss, these artworks aim to capture and celebrate this particular moment in history and this brave generation.

Here is the link to the online publication of the presentations from Diaspore Italiane Genova

Wallpaper – Mirror, rorriM, 2011, Pastel on paper, 108h x 216w cm, Mildura dirt and Murray River sand, dimensions variable.

Wallpaper – Mirror, rorriM, 2011, Pastel on paper, 108h x 216w cm, Mildura dirt and Murray River sand, dimensions variable. Link to Wallflower – Mirror, rorriM

 

Chasing the Disappeared, 2012 Pastel on paper, 108h x 800w cm and two panels each 108h x 80w cm

Chasing the Disappeared, 2012 Pastel on paper, 108h x 800w cm and two panels each 108h x 80w cm. Link to Chasing the Disappeared

Mother Tongue, Installation View Mother Tongue, 2013, 20 drawings, each titled after one of the 20 regions of Italy, pastel on paper, overall 345h x 615w cm, 2013 Alphabet sound component, duration 4:43, Documentary Film, duration 15:29.

Mother Tongue, Installation View
Mother Tongue, 2013, 20 drawings, each titled after one of the 20 regions of Italy, pastel on paper, overall 345h x 615w cm, 2013 Alphabet sound component, duration 4:43, Documentary Film, duration 15:29. Link to Mother Tongue

 

Alpha Sound, Alphabet, 26 drawings each 120h x 80w cm

Alpha Sound, Alphabet, 26 drawings each 120h x 80w cm

 

Alpha Sound, Sound Waves, 26 drawings each 120h x 80w cm

Alpha Sound, Sound Waves, 26 drawings each 120h x 80w cm

 

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The Weight of my Culture (cups)

The Weight of my Culture (cups) is the second work that I have developed using coffee cups that i have been collecting from family members in Mildura – mostly from broken and old used sets. These new works are more about using objects and elements of nature that already evoke memory and then imbuing them with another more personal layer. In a way these works are actually more personal than the drawings as they are more intimate in scale and also more reflective in process and intent.

This second work has includes three sardines. The sardine is the fish out of water, a symbol that I have been using for years to represent my parents’ migration from Italy to Australia. I use the sardines either individually or in threes to represent each parent and myself.

 Weight of my Culture (cups), ceramics, gouache and wooden base, 27h x 22w x 22d cm.

Weight of my Culture (cups), ceramics, gouache and wooden base, 27h x 22w x 22d cm.

 

Detail,  Weight of my Culture (cups), ceramics, gouache and wooden base, 27h x 22w x 22d cm.

Detail,  Weight of my Culture (cups), ceramics, gouache and wooden base, 27h x 22w x 22d cm.

 

Detail,  Weight of my Culture (cups), ceramics, gouache and wooden base, 27h x 22w x 22d cm.

Detail,  Weight of my Culture (cups), ceramics, gouache and wooden base, 27h x 22w x 22d cm.

Detail,  Weight of my Culture (cups), ceramics, gouache and wooden base, 27h x 22w x 22d cm.

Detail,  Weight of my Culture (cups), ceramics, gouache and wooden base, 27h x 22w x 22d cm.

 

 

Weight of my Culture (cups), ceramics, gouache and wooden base, 27h x 22w x 22d cm.

Weight of my Culture (cups), ceramics, gouache and wooden base, 27h x 22w x 22d cm.

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The Weight of My Culture (cups and saucers)

I have been collecting coffee cups from family members in Mildura – mostly from broken and old used sets. These new works are more about using objects and elements of nature that already evoke memory and then imbuing them with another more personal layer. In a way these works are actually more personal than the drawings as they are more intimate in scale and also more reflective in process and intent.

From these cups I have developed two works The first is The Weight of My Culture (cups and saucers), it has the names of my parents and all their siblings and beneath the glass cup is a sardine which has been painted on the wooden base. The sardine is the fish out of water, a symbol that I have been using for years to represent my parents’ migration from Italy to Australia. Usually I use it either individually or in three to represent each parent and myself.

Weight of my Culture (cups and saucers), ceramics, gouache and wooden base,  25h x 22w x 22d cm.

Weight of my Culture (cups and saucers), ceramics, gouache and wooden base, 25h x 22w x 22d cm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weight of my Culture (cups and saucers, detail, ceramics, gouache and wooden base,  25h x 22w x 22d cm.

Weight of my Culture (cups and saucers, detail, ceramics, gouache and wooden base, 25h x 22w x 22d cm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weight of my Culture (cups and saucers, detail, ceramics, gouache and wooden base,  25h x 22w x 22d cm.

Weight of my Culture (cups and saucers, detail, ceramics, gouache and wooden base, 25h x 22w x 22d cm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weight of my Culture (cups and saucers, detail, ceramics, gouache and wooden base,  25h x 22w x 22d cm.

Weight of my Culture (cups and saucers, detail, ceramics, gouache and wooden base, 25h x 22w x 22d cm.

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