Images and voices saturate the Mindful Mill as twenty years of memories seep from my mind and splatter onto the paper in front of me. Stories spanning 170 years rendezvous effortlessly with impulsive strokes of watercolour, ink and rich-pigment chalk pastel.
Welcome to another Lobethal Woollen Mill artwork. This time, however, instead of calling it a ‘study’ I’m calling it a liquidation. The paper is a receptacle for liquefied memories; for the downloading of an obsession with place.
Somewhere & Somewhen
When I look at the Mindful Mill, I recall not only what it represents, but where and when the artwork began. These thoughts also mingle with memories of how it was done; its process of creation.
Another place infiltrates my sense of this place.
The general “where” of my creative practice includes the garden, front veranda, kitchen, and studio. The flexible use of these spaces allows the repurposing of memories from daily repetitiveness of planting, weeding, cooking, and cleaning, to time-stamping the birth of artistic endeavours.
It was summer when I started the Mindful Mill, at the beginning of 2022. It was after COVID restrictions eased, after State borders opened, after air travel recommenced, and before Russia invaded Ukraine. January 2022 held promise of better times to come.
Scribbling & Self Talk
It was a warm January evening on my front veranda. I had an apple & pear cider in hand and summertime joy was high. Birds busied about the bottlebrush blooms, dogs barked, pleasant conversations traversed the warm air, and insects hummed overhead.
I noticed new ideas on the horizon, pleading for oxygen, and an overwhelming urge to scribble descended upon me. Thus began the sporadic purging of accumulated Woollen Mill imagery.
The colour choices were easy. I was in a bold, complementary frame of mind, so it was orange & blue, yellow & purple. Perfect. But the whole time I felt something over my shoulder, judging—penetrating my thoughts like an x-ray; a ghost grazing on the jagged edges of my mind.
A sense of panic manifested from the unease. You can’t trust your memory (I reminded myself) and I thought, perhaps I should check the integrity of my drawings against the actual buildings? I mean, is this good enough to call art?
Really? Sounds ridiculous in hindsight. I was doing an exercise on the sense of place—so what if the buildings are orange, misshapen, out-of-place and outlined in deep indigo chalk pastel?
Yet, doubt persisted.
Perhaps it was a need for perfectionism and acceptance—the external expectations rained from above since birth (a child of commercialism). Another way to say it: the normative emotions of my society, driving behaviours and beliefs, and constantly measuring my fiscal value.
But how do you measure creativity?
I mean, what am I good for?
Creativity exists in the Mindful Mill, but the question remains: is it good enough? And the reply: who cares?
Within the digital version of Mindful Mill (above) are superimposed photographs of the Lobethal Woollen Mill. The images were supposed to generate a contrast between the real and the abstract; I expected them to juxtapose the imperfection of my garbled brain purge, instead the result is a ghost-like translucency.
All representations remain unreal.
Who’s talking now?
The haunting of my art practice endures for the life of the dizzying void between expectations—between society’s emotional norms and my own emotional experience. I consume and display prescribed feelings and in doing so, bolster the ranks of my own social conditioning. How can I challenge the “emotional regime” from within it?
I may as well declare aloud: art has to be good enough. It’s an object, a result. A commodity.
Here we go again: who says?
Not inside-me. Inside-me enjoys the mishmash of memories and inventive moments, rendering time and place to hindsight recollections. Process is the destination, but then suddenly the journey ends—usually due to a time limit (an opening, a print run, or a promise). Not so much finished, but paused or deadlined. Stopped.
However, outside-me appears fully onboard with the idea of a finished artwork; a tangible icon of a pervasive process, shrunken to the value of its objectness. Why else would I present my work on this website, creating a place for you to visit?
**Exhibition button will be live from 1 August for the beginning of the South Australian Living Artists 2022 Festival
Kendrea Rhodes’ SALA 2022 Exhibition (online) comes to you from an Adelaide Hills kitchen in August. This exhibition focuses on alternative methods of studying place and community through art praxis. Various images are framed and for sale during the SALA 2022 Festival. If you are in the Adelaide Hills, and would like to see the paintings in person, please contact KendreArt here. ** digital images are not 100% representative of physical artwork, they are distinct artworks in themselves.
- De La Fuente, Eduardo. “The Artwork Made Me Do It: Introduction to the New Sociology of Art.” Thesis Eleven, 103(1), 2010, pp. 3–9.
- History of Emotions:
Boddice, Rob. The History of Emotions. Manchester University Press, 2018.
Matt, Susan J., and Peter N. Stearns., editors. Doing Emotions History, University of Illinois Press, 2014.
Reddy, William M. The Navigation of Feeling a Framework for the History of Emotions. Cambridge, U.K. ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001; “emotional regime”, p 129.
Scheer, Monique. “Are emotions a kind of practice (and is that what makes them have a history)? A Bourdieuian Approach to Understanding Emotion.” History and Theory, vol. 51, no. 2, 2012, pp. 193–220.