Road signs – Rosalie Gascoigne

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?

Tiger Tiger 1987Above: Tiger Tiger 1987.

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.

In the About the Artwork section on the MCA website it says

‘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


About Claire B

I'm a passionate printmaker, paper-maker and a poor sketcher (which I'm working to improve). I've stitched from early childhood and am a perpetual student, loving learning and participating in everything creative.
This entry was posted in Assignment 1: Cultural Fusion, Exploring Ideas: Museums, Galleries, Etc., Textiles 1: Exploring Ideas and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Road signs – Rosalie Gascoigne

  1. jane b says:

    I can just imagine you standing there, trying to give them a hug to say hello! I like her work also, but have never tried to work out the meaning. They always look so balanced. Sometimes I wondered whether I liked the work because its such an unusual medium for a woman to work in (did I just say that to you – who loves to work in metal! I know its a very gender generalized comment), and she turns bossy signs into poetic (but I’ve stolen that word from your research), pleasing artworks.

  2. Claire B says:

    Good comments. I like the ‘bossy signs into poetic’ part. The idea that something as glaringly obvious as simple words on a yellow background – giving us the clearest command/demand/direction possible – being reorganised into fragmented personal expression intrigues.
    Jigsaws that just don’t fit.

  3. fibresofbeing says:

    I’m also reminded of Ruark Lewis looking at this.

  4. Pingback: Exploring Ideas: Assignment 1 Cultural Fusion – Addendum | TactualTextiles

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