Reno - Laura Wills & William Cheesman
Opening - 12:00 AM - Thursday, 2nd of September
Artist Talk - 6:00 PM
Running - 2 Sep 2010 - 18 Sep 2010
The struggle to define and understand our place in the world is central to the collaborative artworks of Laura Wills and William Cheesman. Whether it is through clear signifiers such as maps and photographs, or subtle hints via materials and objects, place (and how we relate to it) is never far away. The Reno Project at FELTspacecontinues to develop and refine the artists' exploration of the intricate relationships between the places we dream of, inhabit or visit and our ways of living and being. The universal themes of shelter and transformation introduced in previous projects are developed further and our particularly Australian relationship with the un/natural world is pulled apart and reconfigured.
Mel Feldmuller's accompanying essay, Reno/Re-know, outlines the history and impact of introduced species in Australia and indicates some of the complex challenges (and opportunities) we face in negotiating a sustainable future together. She points to the intricate and ever-shifting nature of our relationship to the 'cultured' environment, shaped as it is by successive waves of immigration and species introduction. We, of course, probably the most destructive species of all, hold a special place in this equation. Feldmuller's discussion provides a context or background for considering The Reno Project and hints at some of the issues at play in this new body of work. For better or worse, we have become intricately entwined in the future of this continent and none of us will ever be the same again.
Relationships to place have been explored previously by Wills and Cheesman in sculptural/installation works including Parkside Nomadic Group and Motor Lapar (Hungry Motor). The dream-like tribe of the Parkside Nomadic Group moves stealthily through Adelaide's secure but stifling suburban culture. They inhabit a parallel world where travellers carry only the necessities of survival, their movements intimately following the contours of the land and the flow of the natural world. Their shelters are built from materials at hand, mirroring a key working method of Wills and Cheesman. These close ties to landscape are echoed in Wills' prodigious body of drawings and paintings on maps. The drawn figure is irrefutably placed within an abstracted landscape, in direct relation to the land. The inhabitants, often travelling, playing or at rest, blend and blur with the features of the land, bringing to mind universal stories of ancestral beings in the act of creation.
Our ability to act, to be active participants in the creation of the future, is significant in the context of Feldmuller's essay and the work presented here in The Reno Project. Native and introduced species fuse, animals and birds morph into shelters. The deep connections between all forms of life, and the fundamental necessities for human survival, become interdependent and inseparable. They are playfully drawn out and given form, offered as new ways of thinking about our place here and the future to come. The collaborative and individual works of Laura Wills and William Cheesman are representative of a deep and determined commitment to creative action. Perhaps it is here that we can glimpse the significance of their practice: artistic creation as a significant contribution to imagining the future and dreaming a path forward.
Laura Wills is a visual artist based in Adelaide, practicing a diverse range of media from drawing to installation, media arts and community projects. Wills has an interest in using found materials, collaboration and basing projects on social/ environmental themes. She regularly exhibits and has received numerous grants and residencies both in Australia and overseas.
William Cheesman has a broad range of skills including work in the architectural field, drafting and primarily model making. More recently he has been working in remote indigenous communities, on community and collaborative art projects and freak bicycle construction. He has an ongoing interest in the environment and aesthetics of art and design in everyday life.
Wills and Cheesman regularly collaborate on a variety of professional and community art projects, including plant in a purse workshops for children, interactive public art projects and large scale installation works.