Maryborough’s Industrial Past Comes to Life

Things are getting exciting for the ‘Collective Insites’ project at Maryborough with the opening of the group exhibition at Gatakers Artspace to take place on May 6th.  This will be followed by a series of solo exhibitions by each of the artists from June 13th onwards. I caught up with Niels Ellmoos, one of the artists, who has been looking at Maryborough’s industrial past. This is what he had to say:

What is the exhibition about?

This exhibition is called ‘Collective Insights’ and it is about re-interpreting several of Maryborough’s museum collections. There are 5 artists involved and each of us have selected a particular museum collection. For instance I am using a Bond store collection which relates to Maryborough’s industrial history. These wooden patterns were removed when the bond Store basement flooded. I am looking at aspects of the industrial history related to them, the kind of industry they represent and as artefacts, how they have a voice from the past.

How are you going to use them?

I see them as a part of a larger picture so to speak. As objects they now , especially in a gallery setting, relate to us as beautiful forms. We enjoy the timber quality, the design and appreciate the skill of the artisan/tradesman who made them. However they were only part of an extensive process . They were used to produce metal components of machinery systems for a variety of industries. Now I want to incorporate the idea that they have a link to the past so in my drawing I use them in the overall composition , to give a recognition and acknowledgement to the design. I also want to show the human element as they were not just stand alone objects. The human form is important and adds to the drama of the drawing. This drawing though is only a part of my overall installation. I usually interface other mediums such as sculptural forms, digital media with the large-scale drawings to create what I call multi dimensional collages or what has been termed Grand narratives.

What do you want to achieve with this multi dimensional Collage Niels?

What I want to achieve is to hopefully involve  or immerse the viewer with the different mediums so that they get an overall reading of the installation. I generally have a number of themes that are just below the surface. These relate to art history, community, history and cultural landscape. Walkers Engineering company and Croydon foundries which I am investigating have a grand local history which in these patterns whilst they are part of it , you can’t really know about it so it is up to the artist to bring other aspects to light. Museums today have the same problem as often and in this case there is scant evidence so often a museum has to make up a narrative about a particular exhibit and generally provide a story or diorama which somehow relates to the artefact they are presenting.

I like the idea of a tension between education and entertainment. When you see the other parts of my concept hopefully you will see what I am getting at. So overall I want  the viewer to be entertained, question and be educated in some way. There should be a few optical tricks and an extension from the basic artefacts which are the patterns.

I am exploring hidden histories a theme which I began back in 2001. I feel that I can engage with a particular community that I am living in if I shed light on various local histories.

I am influenced by a number of artists that have dealt in some way with these kinds of themes. The significance of material evidence is crucial where documentary evidence is inadequate and in technological history this is often the case.

Here the real original pattern is on view. How do I bring a more eclectic and vigorous history to light? In the large drawing I try to inject a sense of drama and action of those early working conditions of which there are documentary proof in BW photos. Then I incorporate the outlines of the patterns to create a flow. This is an expressionist way of working quite vigorous in its

application. I also let my sub conscious mind work so that the drawing becomes infused with abstract shapes that become lines of energy which link focal points in the composition almost like a blueprint.

For the sculptural or 3 dimensional parts of the installation I will use some of the patterns themselves to provide a museum context. Other materials such as transport palettes, wooden box , plywood cut outs, dioramas etc will be incorporated. The digital media will consist of a tv monitor showing a loop of documentary footage.

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