awkward beauty – a collaboration

‘I would not go as far as to say each work is wholly reliant on the other, but each is related to the other and in a way, would not exist without the other.’

Elisha Buttler Curator at FORM, Western Austrailia

I have mentioned awkward beauty, a collaboration of Helen Britton, Justine McKnight and Michelle Taylor, in an earlier post but did not elaborate. At this latter stage in my collaboration with Helen, this quote [above] from Buttler, in her introduction to awkward beauty has grabbed me and I find myself understanding it factually.

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Open page from the awkward beauty catalog

Buttler goes on in this short text to describe their collaboration, its origins and outcomes. In doing so she mentions space, suggesting that it often informs what is created – it is the starting point. Buttler is specifically talking here about the derelict Midland Railway Workshops where Taylor photographed Britton’s and McKnight’s work. I find myself now contemplating space and one which jointly may have initiated mine and Helen’s collaboration. Space does not necessarily need to represent a physical one though, it can be theoretical. A space where two minds assimilate, the splendor we both see, non-specifically, in industrial surroundings is apparent. It is formerly that these physical spaces have influenced this existing theoretical one.

Coincidentally, I started my adult life working in Auckland’s Otahuhu Railway Workshops, supplying equipment to tradesmen. It was a rough and intimidatingly masculine environment that yet I found to be tranquil and safe. I was allured by its structural dominance and its strength of place in the world. My office was smack bang in the center, surrounded by long buildings that the trains were built in and which I often walked through. Being subject to surroundings like this was not fleeting. I have lived a life wrapped in heavy industrial fabrication and so like Buttler suggests, it plausibly informs what I make and where it started but maybe on a subconscious level and relevant to my search for that space between the feminine and masculine .

Images: and



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