What are you most looking forward to at the WA Focus exhibition this spring?
WA Focus at the AGWA program will benefit many West Australian artists, and personally it’s an opportunity to show the works they currently have in their collection alongside new works that I am making for the exhibition. I’m looking forward to placing the new paintings with works dating from the year 2000 and seeing what has developed, and how the formalist aspects have changed… or not.
What themes are examined in this exhibition?
The new paintings investigate the current global trend of ‘interconnected existence’ – systems or alliances involving science, economics, political and humanitarian realms (the United Nations, the Svalbard Seed Vault or UNESCO, for example) each appearing as a singular, complex network, that aims to achieve some sort of international harmonic legacy.
Where do your artistic ideas stem from?
My art practice is influenced by a formalist minimalist viewpoint with simplicity of form and geometric abstraction generally contributing to the outcome. The same working methodology is used in the photography, canvas paintings and wall installations, though often the wall installations include features of the site that contribute to the outcome. I like to think of the canvas, wall or photograph as a container for an idea – for example, an image taken from the fast train that travels between Madrid and Seville in Spain literally becomes a freeze-frame of information describing velocity, location, the camera, weather conditions, and the list goes on. You often work with your husband, artist Jeremy Kirwan-Ward.
Jeremy and I muse that we have three identities – his, mine, and our collaborative guise. I love working in the collaborative mode with him, as the creative process (usually achieved during a number of brainstorming sessions) can go in any direction. Because of the scale of the wall works, working together makes perfect sense. And if you are required to spend a week in the small cage of a cherry picker together with paint, tape, tape measures and brushes, six metres from the ground, it generally works better if you know each other quite well.
WA Focus: Helen Smith, Art Gallery of WA, until October 18.