The best artists make hearts and minds do cartwheels – and that’s what happened for me last Friday night at the opening of Tara Badcock’s Hunt Nature Birth, a Solo Commission at the Devonport Regional Gallery. Tara invited me to speak at the launch and I was subsequently asked by a number of those attending if my words might be published. Do make a point of seeing Tara’s exhibition if you can. It continues in Devonport for the next few weeks and tours to The Barn in Rosny in 2016.
“One of the roles of an artist is to give birth to the unknown – regardless of whether it has an audience. But it’s a hard road in a world increasingly being driven by questions like: ‘Who is this for?’, ‘What’s your audience?’, ‘How will you reach them?’ and ‘What’s your USP – in three words?’.
These are so often the questions asked of creative people these days. It’s not where Tara Badcock plays. But Tara has conjured her three words with Hunt Nature Birth.
My astonishment at Tara’s talent began when I first moved back to Tasmania and saw photographs taken by her friend Alan Moyle: a dress in a barn, a chair in a paddock with her cushions on it. And the name of her business? Paris+Tasmania.
For someone who had just moved back to Tasmania after nearly two decades living in Europe, wondering how I was going to make both sides of the world come together, Tara’s vision was a revelation. Here was someone practicing at the top of her game, boldly saying that she could, and in the process turning it into a label.
Paris+Tasmania seemed to say to me two places could matter and work. But, more than that, how the artist might have a duty to make it so.
With our history of colonisation Tasmania is two places. It is a familiar struggle. The struggle of being a migrant in your own home. Of forever trying to make the other relevant, matter, gel, co-create… I believe this is an area where Tara Badcock leads. Like many of you I’ve observed her sharing of the frenzy of her creation of Hunt Nature Birth. On one occasion, early on, Tara posted on Instagram:
“I was trying hard NOT to make work with any relation to this subject (birth experience) and it was all going pear shaped until I gave in and all the artworks started appearing very naturally.”
How sweet that sounds.
For those of you who know Tara, or if you’ve been following her progress on Instagram, you’ll be familiar with her sense of madness, her self confessed silliness, her vulnerability, how she admits to being wracked with doubt… And love her all the more for it because she just keeps going.
And when Tara first told me over cake (gluten free) on her dining room table, how she was working on this Solo Commission which featured a ‘marsupial mummy’, with a baby in one hand and heart with arteries in the other pulled from the pregnant dress – my everything tingled at the clever madness; at her gumption; at the visions she left in my mind.
When Tara asked me to say a few words this evening she wrote, “I hope you don’t find the subject matter unpleasant, it’s a very personal expression of the confusion I felt having children – in my mind it was supposed to be a very natural, essentially biological experience, and it turned out to be an estranged one, surgical even, which left me feeling divorced from the whole process.”
What I revel in here, and you will too, is Tara Badcock’s infinite energy to explore and create, and the absolute insistence on growth and fulfillment, despite the unravelling of identity that motherhood can bring.
I’m filled with admiration for her achievement. And just as much for her ability to maintain consciousness, self-awareness and objectivity of the birth process and being a mother. I have a small feel of the sense of ‘madness’ she may have been going through during these years, but only infinitesimal, because I’ve never been a mother. Most mums I know seem to necessarily ‘disappear’, and Tara has done the opposite. That’s what’s genius.
She won’t self-congratulate – that’s what we’re here to do for her. Tara, it’s a joy to share a room with you and your artwork in front of your family, friends and peers. All together we congratulate you.
You thoroughly deserve the attention and every honour.”
Hear Tara Badcock in conversation at the Devonport Regional Gallery, Tuesday September 15th, 11am, admission free. The artist’s exhibition continues at the Devonport Regional Gallery until October 18th, 2015.