Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Absence of Objects

I love libraries. I absolutely love them. I love the small community libraries that have story telling sessions for kids and displays of local treasures and old photographs of the area, and artworks from local schools and community groups up on the walls. I also love the BIG libraries, the multi-level libraries, housed in big old buildings, or often these days in sleek new modern ones. Every time I walk into a library I get butterflies in my belly (the same thing happens in bookshops, art galleries, art supply stores and fabric shops!). I always feel so overwhelmed by the sheer unfathomable amount of information in them. I spend a lot of time in libraries. Sometimes I go to research a specific thing for my work. Other times I just go and browse and graze and wander around and see what I stumble across. There’s always something weird and wonderful to be found amongst those shelves!

The thing I love most about libraries are the heritage collections. It’s amazing what you can find in those collections. Not just books, but objects and artworks and records of all kinds. I love nothing more than burying myself away in those dark rooms, where you have to wear the little white gloves, and poring over old manuscripts and diaries and photographs and records and documents, discovering stories or accounts or just simply evidence of peoples everyday lives. In some ways it is just a form of voyeurism, peeking into other people’s lives, the safe kind you can’t get busted for!! But it’s also about something else too. So often when we talk or think or make things about the past it is about remembering - what we remember, and the ways we remember. But what I find more fascinating is the forgetting, the process by which things get forgotten and how, in the absence of objects, whole lives and stories can just disappear. These collections fascinate me because they are little doorways into the past, little repositories of near-forgotten things, without which countless stories would have completely disappeared. detail from a work of mine titled "the absence of objects"

8 comments:

Paul said...

I like these coasters Mel. They are coasters aren't they? Such a clever idea to have the spoon impression and the lovely decals.
I love libraries too, but alas don't get too much opportunities to visit them anymore:-(

Katie Parker said...

Mel - just found your blog - it is wonderful! and your work is beautiful...

Florence said...

I was thinking of this today. How things bob in and out of consciousness, sometimes things emerge years later, somethings maybe never again.

perhaps...

..the absent spoon...even the familar can disappear...a meditation on time, the passing of the generations and the lingering ancestral memories that effect our every day pattern of life and behaviour.

just some thoughts :)

xx

Mel Robson said...

hi paul, nope not coasters! They go on the wall. (what shape are your glasses??!!!).

and hi Katie!! What a nice surprise! Gee, the world just keeps getting smaller and smaller!

Thanks for your thoughts Florence. Sometimes i think it is the familiar that disappears most easily...over time.

reb said...

Mel, you are sooooo right about libraries, YES! is all I can say to that. I'm a big library girl myself as it happens.
Also those absent spoons are just divine...where did they go and are they happy there?

Mel Robson said...

Thanks wrecker! Those spoons are part of the Mater Women's Hospital Collection now, although i am nervously babysitting them until their new building is finished. I think they'll be happy there!! I finally got in to the new BCC library just last week at Brisbane Square...it's a bit nice! I imagine you're a regular being so close and all! I love the conveyor belts with the books rolling along! Very spiffy!

Amanda said...

OMG - these are absolutely chokingly beautiful! How do you do it???

My Marrakech said...

Your work is just stunning. Gawd!