Terri BROOKS / Allan MANN / Jim SILLITOE
Makeshift and the Australian Patina
Our Christmas tree was an open umbrella stripped of its covering, the structural wires wrapped in cotton wool and bound with tinsel had hand crafted decorations and there were ornaments of gold and ‘silver frost’1 painted pine cones decorated with tartan ribbons and holly. It was a makeshift solution in a time of poverty. Likewise ‘depression furniture’ made during the 1930s from packing crates, sugar sacks and other cast-offs, deftly made with considerable skill and inventiveness but, importantly, without professional expertise, is considered ‘collectors’ items today.
The ‘Annandale Imitation Realists’ drew critical attention in the 1960’s, to their work compiled of found objects and collage. The group’s haphazard ‘boundary busting’ assemblages consisted of scrounged materials, ‘makeshift’. Robert Hughes suggested the exuberant work owes more to ‘folk-art incrustation’2 than high art.
Suddenly we are faced with global warming, climate change and finite resources. There is talk once more of recycling, energy efficiency and living ‘lightly’ on the planet. These were concepts that people from our grandparents’ generation understood fully. This research investigates the spirit of ‘making do’ or ‘makeshift’ that lives on today in Australian art. In so doing it addresses social and cultural issues and a contemporary art approach dispersed, undocumented and on the edge of the Western art movements of our times and until now unconnected to Australian indigenous art culture.
1Silver Frost was a type of hard wearing enamel paint used to brighten the appearance of taps and pipes but was also used for all sorts of things including painting pot plants and tin boxes to give things a fresh appearance. 2 Hughes, Robert, The Art of Australia, Penguin Books, Australia, First Published 1966, Revised Edition 1970, Reprinted; 1981, 1984, 1986. Page 9.Download Makeshift and the Australian Patina (77.81 KB)