Rosalie Gascoigne 1917- 1999
I first came across this Australian artist on-line whilst researching ideas for my road sign totems. I wondered about the cut up yellow retro-reflective road signs she had reworked into fragmented and incomprehensible art pieces. Was she trying to hide or distort the messages they were supposed to be giving? Was it more an act of vandalism? Or was there some other purpose to these pieces?
I decided not to research and find out anything about the artist until I had looked at the pictures for a few days to see what I could gather from them, how I wanted to interpret them myself. Then, lo and behold, whilst at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney I found myself standing in front of the actual pieces. They were bigger and more substantial in form, weight and solidity than they appeared on the net. There’s no replacement for seeing the real thing!
By this stage they seemed almost familiar old friends (I had been looking at them on my monitor for quite a while) and I was pleased to examine them. What on earth were the original messages before these rearrangements? And what was the message now?
So I went back to the computer and read whatever I could find. I’m not going to copy that down here but I will provide some links for those interested. However I will share one or two interesting facts.
‘The real meaning of the work lies in experience of the found, weathered and reconfigured material and the play of light upon it.”
‘Although the letters ….. do not cohere, language is central to its layered play of meaning. ……language infuses her work. Her assemblages are frequently referred to as visual poetry and share with modern poetry the construction techniques of fragmentation, repetition and juxtaposition.’
The site also has a quote, part of the artist statement, as follows –
“I don’t want it to be dramatically lit, but I do want it to sometimes flash at you, as road signs do, and then go sullen, then flash, like a living thing”
Rosalie Gascoigne, 1988.
A sort of fragmented, scattered visual poetry. Yes, I can see that.
Photograph by Claire Brach