Artist Profile: Eleanor Jane Robinson

 

Eleanor Jane Robinson will be exhibiting as part of PODzome, the upcoming PODspace exhibition. We caught up with her and asked her some questions about her arts practice and her work for this exhibition.

 

How did you get involved with the PODzome exhibition? 

I am a member of a casual group of artists who meet fortnightly.  We were all invited to put in a brief proposal on work we might create on the theme of rhizomes.

 

What inspired you to create your PODzome piece? 

I read the chapter on rhizomes in Deleuze and Guattari’s book, A Thousand Plateaus. I liked the notion that ideas and knowledge and even ‘things’ are not bound by categories or hierarchies, instead forming dynamic networks crisscrossing and spreading in many directions.

Some of my starting points included:

  • A rhizomatic structure reflects a model where interconnectivity and multiplicity create meaning.
  • Things may go off in unforseen directions or work in unregulated ways.
  • Actual rhizomes are underground. We can’t see them. They pop up in random places and the connections may surprise us.

This all brought to mind the way I experience my thoughts, the imaginative leaps we all make, the way conversations jump with ease from one subject to another. It also reminded me of the way symbols operate to evoke many mental images and associations. Or the way I might look at a diagram of the human nervous system and be reminded of a river delta or a tree’s winter skeleton or tide marks in sand or a map.

I decided to simply start by creating a series of small random pieces that would form a fluid grid of disparate objects. The viewer could then find their own ‘rhizomatic’ connections between the various elements.

 

How did you feel your piece fitted within the theme? 

What was really interesting was that the work did grow and develop in unexpected ways. For example, I had made a tadpole and an ammonite. When I saw them together, my mind made the connection ‘evolution’. I made a lighthouse. I thought of Virginia Woolf. Some clouds brought to mind a beautiful passage by Hermann Hesse I had read many years ago. A spine reminded me of a fishbone fern, a pair of lungs looked like some seaweed or a tree’s roots.

Every time I lay the pieces out on the ground, in different configurations, they gave me different connections. (What Deleuze and Guattari might call ‘deterritorialization’ and ‘reterritorialization’…)

The authors talk of how two random things placed together form a ‘rhizome’. If I see a picture of a book and a light bulb, I will think of ‘inspiration’. If I see two hands reaching toward one another, I might think of Michelangelo’s ‘The Creation of Adam’.

I found my brain always found ways to organise the pieces I was sewing and so I simply allowed that to happen. I was interested to observe the process of selection …what kinds of images of the many I considered I actually took the time to sew. In the end, I found I had a series of what I think of as ‘author rhizomes’. And so from starting with the intent to make seemingly unrelated things, I saw that it is true that everything can be found to connect in some way with other things…nothing is really distinct and separate. ‘A rhizome ceaselessly creates connections.’

 

What made you choose the medium you did, to represent the PODzome theme? 

Thread is all about making connections, stitching or weaving things together.  As the spool unwinds, all things flowing from it have a common source and yet can take any shape. As I worked, I thought of Arachne, of webs, of a cat’s cradle game where a piece of thread can be manipulated to form many different images.

I chose to make thread drawings on dissolvable cloth. The finished work would cast shadows behind and around each piece which would allow the thread ‘connections’ to interact in different directions and with an added dimension, rhizome-like.

Also, I simply enjoy the meditative aspects of the very slow process of sewing.

 

What are you hoping to achieve from this exhibition? 

With all of my art, my aim is simply to explore ideas through engaging with various processes and hopefully to make work I am happy with. I rarely feel that I have finished with a theme or concept, and I’m becoming interested in the way that certain things ‘unconsciously’ recur in my work over time.

‘It is extraordinary how having done a thing once you have to do it again, there is the pleasure of coincidence and there is the pleasure of repetition.’ Gertrude Stein

 

To see Jane’s work, come to the PODzome exhibition.

Venue: University of Newcastle Gallery

Exhibition opening: Friday 12 September 6-8pm

Exhibition dates: 10 – 27 September

Gallery hours: Wed – Fri 10 – 5, Sat 12 – 4. Other times by appointment.

Access: Both the gallery and toilets are wheelchair accessible. There is one disability parking spot outside the gallery.

 

Visit Jane’s website for more of her work.