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EXHIBITION: ‘What I saw when I went away’ by Katherine Bowman

AL: How long had it been since you had traveled somewhere overseas, where was the last place you visited?

KB: The last time I travelled overseas was about 5 years ago.

I went to Europe – Paris, Lisbon and England.

AL: What made you chose New York as your destination?

KB: At the beginning of last year a friend of mine died. He was an artist and introduced me to a number of artists’ work, which have been very influential on my own practice. When he died, I came across an article on an exhibition that was currently on at Moma (http://www.moma.org) in New York – a retrospective of the work of Lygia Clark (http://www.lygiaclark.org.br/noticia_detING.asp?Idnoticia=354) one of the artists that my friend introduced me too many years ago. The exhibition was on until June or July 2014, when I read this I decided to go to New York and see this exhibition. I had never been to America before.

 EXHIBITION What I saw when I went away by Katherine Bowman

AL: New York is a big, busy city how did you feel while you were there?

KB: I travelled on my own, so my experience was different to if I was with people. I felt like a silent observer in a very noisy busy city. It was interesting as usually when I have travelled I have been in places where I do not speak the language. Here I could speak the language however a lot felt foreign, yet at the same time very familar to me. I often found it very funny, as people are very vocal and in your face! On the whole I found New Yorkers really friendly.

 EXHIBITION What I saw when I went away by Katherine Bowman

AL: Your work makes reference to talisman’s and souvenirs – What are some of the things you “saw” on this trip that influenced you as a maker and the works you have produced for this exhibition?

KB: I really loved the American Museum of Natural History http://www.amnh.org and The Met http://www.metmuseum.org. I was expecting to be mostly interested in seeing contemporary works. However I kept finding myself back in the Egyptian collection at the Met and the Native American collection at the Natural History Museum. I went to the Met multiple times, because of the vast collections of different cultures that we don’t get to see in Australia. I also loved how eclectic each museum was, painting, sculpture, jewellery, artifacts, all housed under the one roof. It reignited my interest in researching how different cultures manifest their belief systems in daily and ritual objects. Jewellery is the perfect medium to explore these ideas especially as it is carried on the body. The small votives I created for the exhibition are an extension of this as well.

 EXHIBITION What I saw when I went away by Katherine Bowman EXHIBITION What I saw when I went away by Katherine Bowman

AL: NYC strikes me as a pretty fast paced modern place and your pieces have a wonderful ancient quality to them. What is your take on this…

KB: I like for things that I make to be intentional so I seek out a hand made look or aged look to the pieces. For me, new, machined looking pieces do not necessarily convey personal experience which is often not perfect, and worn at the edges. I love minimal, perfect work, however for my own work, it does not help me to convey the stories that I explore with making things. Also I think that there is more energy with placing different things together. It allows for an interesting dialogue.

 EXHIBITION What I saw when I went away by Katherine Bowman

AL: I love your quote that “when we travel to see things, what we really see is ourselves” could you let us in on a little bit of what you saw (in yourself) while you were away…

KB: I had been working a number of jobs for a couple of years and rushing from one thing to another and had not exhibited for three years as a result. When I went away I was acutely aware of how much I wanted to create for creations sake. Not to meet an order or fulfill production needs. Just to create to explore an idea. To push myself to make things that I had not made before. To challenge myself creatively. When I went away I was faced with everything about myself and the thing that I love the most is to create, it always pushes me forward. And that became more present the more I looked at things and experienced new things. When I am inspired by things I always want to make or draw as an extension of that experience. Its like my hands itch to make something. I sketched the three sculptures on a train, and then kept developing the drawings. I do not think I would have found these forms without the experience of travel. They were like an emotional response to experience.

 EXHIBITION What I saw when I went away by Katherine Bowman

AL: In this exhibition What I saw when I went away you have created sculptures on a larger scale to your jewellery practise, could you give us some background on what has inspired you to make larger works, how the process differs to you jewellery skills and will you be taking this sculptural work further?

KB: I have pretty much wanted to do this for years, and priotised other things. I think that I have been waiting for the right forms to allow me to make the step to pursuing foundry casting. Scale is very important. When I look at things, like going to exhibitions, or read, I start to create works in my head. What became very clear to me that in order to explore the concepts that this body of work encapsulates for me, I needed to work on different scales with different mediums. So the three sculptures, collection of small votives and group of rings, all fulfilled different needs to explore the theme of this new body of work. I loved every aspect of making the larger works. It was familiar and not familiar to me at the same time. A real challenge. I wish I could work on this scale full time.

AL: The canvas you have painted for this exhibition is a beautiful contrast to the 3 dimensional works. 

Could you shed a bit more light on it’s relationship to the objects in the show.

KB: I pretty much start every new body of work by drawing. I then make my drawings. So painting and drawing is essential to my creation of objects and jewellery. For me exploring different mediums helps me to explore conceptual ideas. So if I have an idea, it is important to me to find the right medium to express it.

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