Artist Creative Process
I have been a practising artist for the past ten years mainly exploring the medium of sculpture but have also undertaken projects that include installation, stage design, film, animation, photography and furniture design. I studied engineering and building design at TAFE and a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Newcastle. I still consider myself an early career artist I have no commercial representation or have any work collected in an art institution. I do however regularly exhibit in and around the Mid North Coast where I live as well as Northern Rivers, Gold Coast, Sydney and Newcastle. I have done numerous Public Art projects for Bellingen and Tuncurry Shire councils and and have undertaken projects with clients such as The Sydney Opera House, Woodford Folk Festival and Regal Retreats Pty Ltd. The majority of my work is inspired by the animal realm, especially, our rich bird life. This relationship is closely linked to my spiritual practice and animals especially birds have become a kind of totemic medium for me to be used as a spirit marker that the land has either illuminated to me or that I am trying to illuminate to the land. My craft can be described as found object assemblage and throughout the years have explored many different styles and materials as I see the importance of experimentation and flux. I have also branched into working with kids through workshops and collaboration for capacity building, motivation and skill sharing.
The sculpture I am submitting, ‘Big Scrub’, is a large scale sculpture of the Australian Scrub Turkey. It is made with a metal frame of coiled flat bar that is welded and sealed for outdoor durability and stands 1.6m high and 2m long and weighs 50kgs approx. The frame is then cloaked and fastened in high grade automotive plastics that I salvage from local Smash Repairers. THE SCULPTURE IS CURRENTLY A WORK IN PROGRESS BUT THE PHOTOS PROVIDED SHOW ENOUGH OF ITS REALISATION TO GAUGE AN IMPRESSION OF WHAT IT WILL LOOK LIKE. The bumper bars have within them a broader metaphor. The modern car from which these materials come from can be seen as a symbol of fast paced capitilism. But each one of these bumpers that have been sourced from smash repairers have been involved in a crash, prang or smash that has involved a car come to a grinding stop. Within that metaphor is a personal yearning that many people hold for this run away capitalism to slam on the brakes and come to an abrupt stop. As with most sculptures I do there are many creative threads that coalesce in order to fully conceive a piece. For simplicity I boiled them down to three main inspirations. 1. I am interested in animals that have adapted to living amongst humans but that garner a reputation for being pests in the process. “Bin Chicken” is a well known nickname for the Scrub Turkey and I theorise that the reason why we feel compelled to call them such is that they actually mirror our own grubby lifestyles, that we are in fact the “Bin Chickens. With this in mind I intend to restore a dignity to the Scrub Turkey and reconnect them to the Big Scrub rainforests. 2. To further promote the majesty of this bird I wanted to acknowledge the significance of the bird in respect to the Bundjalung dreaming of Wollumbin which centres around a giant Scrub Turkey. The fact that such a sacred place is associated with the Brush Turkey suggests a sacred significance to the bird that deserves cultural and ecological respect. 3. And finally I want to bring awareness and symbolise the inspiring work of the Big Scrub Landcare Movement. The fact that a group of people were not swayed by the fact that 1% of the Big Scrub remained but rather saw it as a blessing and opportunity to regenerate it, is truly inspiring and I would like to help the movement the only way I know how, through art. I feel the world is so quick to be outraged by such facts and devote so much time to the negative, but that through positive gratitude towards what we have is a powerful and productive way to regenerate and move forward.
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Sculpture Photography: John Walters