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Process, Play and Material Exploration: The Cabbage

No more cabbages in Filignano! They have all been Fonged.

I made a conscious decision when packing materials for this residency to travel as light as possible with the thought that I would find my material when I arrived. Of course I brought paper, watercolour, ink and a few graphite pencils with me but sculpturally I wanted to be resourceful and be open to inspiration here in Collemacchia. Over the course of the past 10 days I have been having multiple encounters with animals, plant life and humans that have been enormously profound. I like to bring the magic back down to earth by working with very everyday and ephemeral materials. Containers and skins // fruit and veg. The abilty to study the flesh of fruit and veg as it matures and rots pleases me enormously. Beauty in age, life cycles & mortality etc. I'm also really curious about colour and smell.

Drawing before drying, visual research: Collemacchia, Molise, Italy

Dehydrating Cabbage Leaves : Sunshine as Resource : Collemacchia, Molise, Italy

When I was at the little supermarket in Filignano last week for a few bits and pieces, I saw a red cabbage nestled amongst the fruit and veg and it was just so beautiful. The skin and veins, blood red colour and general size and shape reminded me of the body, both heart and brain. These two organs I am always trying to unite within myself, emotion and intellect, as they're both very strong and not nice when they're conflicting with each other. When I’m studying the body either from the inside (specimens) or the outside (life drawing), I’m constantly looking for the landscape. In the landscape I am attempting the reverse. This cabbage however was body, landscape and object all at once. Perfection. So I bought it. I had no intention to eat it, just to study it and keep it for company (getting a little desperate here as you can see)…really must learn Italian for future visits.

Drawing whilst watching over my cabbages as the storm clouds threaten to break : Collemacchia Molise, Italy

Darwina Fong (my Grandma) making her beef jerky // She has a dehydrator because she's profesh! Darwin, Australia 2017

After making one drawing of this cabbage, I decided to go and buy the rest of the cabbages in the shop much to the amusement and bewilderment of the locals. I’ve since being drying them in the sun outside the studio here in Collemacchia. There’s something very beautiful about using the sunshine as a resource.  It means that you have to take time to let ideas mature naturally. You have to watch the weather & the clouds, and you must handle the material in a way that is precious. I love to preserve food. I’ve inherited this love and ritual from my Grandma who is the absolute queen of preserved goods and cooking in general. Food is her religion. So I’ve been preserving my cabbages and allowing the processing time to aid my thoughts about where to go next. All the while drawing each one before it gets sacrificed to the lemon juice and sun gods.

Studio Ceremony : Process as Ritual : Collemacchia, Molise, Italy

I’m still feeling my way in the dark as to what happens next but I believe it is something about ceremony and ritual, love and loss.

If you would like to learn more about this residency program and the wonderful roaming art practice of Tracy Mackenna and Edwin Janssen of The Museum of Loss and Renewal, you can find them at www.tmolar.org.

Stay tuned and thanks for reading. Em x

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