Artist JULIE RRAP discusses works from the national collection that inspire, move or intrigue her.
Pineapple Cannery, 1978
Tracey Moffatt's First jobs series was quite a quirky group of works. The topic is something we can all relate to. We've all had a first job, which was usually not the job we've ended up with.
One of my first jobs was at a pineapple cannery when I was a university student. It sticks in my memory because it was piecework, meaning there was no union attached to the cannery. It was a Dickensian scene because you just had to show up and hope you got some work. When I look at the rows of women in Moffatt's image, I am reminded that that is what it was like.
Moffatt is a really important Australian artist and in some ways her importance grows with deepening understandings and emphasis on Indigenous art generally in Australia. But I think it's broader than that; she touches upon the human condition in ways we all can relate to.
(Mother and daughter), 1985
I responded very naturally and viscerally to this work. It's an interesting one to choose because I don't know this photographer, but it reminded me of other kinds of practices in its strangely surreal quality. I am intrigued to know more about Wiener, which is one of the things about looking into the national collection – it whets your appetite to find out more. It's also nice to think that an image lives outside its time.
What I find intriguing about the medium of photography is its ability to both tell the truth and lie. Just through lighting,manipulation and double exposure techniques, Wiener has created a very uncanny image. That's tied in with the medium of photography; we want to make it sit in the real, but in actual fact, it's surreal.
Pintupi people, born 1969
I've always been drawn to the way Pintupi people paint. When I look at paintings from that region, I find them so energetic. They allow me to stand still and watch. In one sense they are very abstract, and then you step away and you see the rhythms in the work. When viewing such paintings, I try to think around the lens of abstraction and the history of abstraction within Western art and attempt, in a way, to just feel this other space of indigenous ways of seeing/being.
I prefer to approach a painting like this in a similar way to a performative action that involves the body and the hand in the act of making.
Great Britain, born 1962
I've known of Sarah Lucas' work for many, many years. She is one of my favourite female artists, partly because I have a strong connection through my own practice to the type of work she creates. I see a humour in it and a kind of playfulness. She's a trickster, and I often describe myself as that within art.
This work is excessive. The idea of the woman as excess is often seen as a bit intimidating; Lucas goes right to that space. It's sort of disturbing at the same time as it's funny and I think she puts those two things together very well. We laugh at it because it's odd and then we question what we are really looking at? What is this female body doing? I like all those disruptions to how women's bodies have tended to be depicted in the history of Western art. They're either very passive or they're romantic or sensuous, but not often disturbing. Her work questions notions of beauty and the grotesque.
It's good to have women like Sarah Lucas making work that has a light touch but comes with a strong message; I think that creates a really interesting blend.
Julie Rrap features in Artists Artists, a five-part podcast series connecting audiences with works of art from the national collection hosted by Jennifer Higgie.
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