Artists mash it up at Maundrell Park in honour of the humble potato!
The Humble Spud!
Maundrell Park Petersham
(cnr. Hopetoun St & Stanmore Rd)
Sunday 4 May 2008
Art in the Park, initiated by Marrickville Council and now in its 5th year gets into the spirit of 2008, The United Nations International Year of the Potato (IYP) with The Humble Spud!, an outdoor art exhibition dedicated to the potato. The Humble Spud! is an IYP endorsed event, joining an array of Potato themed extravaganzas throughout the world this year.
Curated by Newtown artist and curator Brendan Penzer, The Humble Spud! exhibition is a celebration of the contribution that the potato makes to global agriculture, economies and world food security. The potato is the fourth highest staple food crop consumed by humans, behind rice, wheat and maize, and today hundreds of millions of people depend on the potato as a major food source, helping to fight poverty and hunger, globally. For more information on IYP visit www.potato2008.org.
Penzer explains the curatorial brief, “our artistic populous was set a challenge to make artwork inspired by the humble spud – that’s right about POTATOES! Potatoes as metaphor, potatoes as subject, potatoes as medium, potatoes as a third degree of separation! If the chips were down and they were in a mash they were asked to think … POTATO”
The theme attracted attention from artists near and far. The Humble Spud! will feature 13 individual and collaborative artworks set in the outdoor gallery space at Maundrell Park, Petersham in Sydney’s Inner West. The exhibition will see local artists sharing the stage with international artists from the US, UK and France, a unique opportunity for Sydney’s Inner West artists to not only share with the audience their amazing talents and versatility, but also a broadening of the exhibitor’s networks and dialogue around local artistic practices on an international platform.
The event will also feature a soundtrack of contemporary songs that make references to potatoes, supplied by Potato Radio, a web based site dedicated to potato in music, and, fun potato art workshops for children and adults facilitated by Sydney artist Ana Carter.
The Humble Spud! - Art in the Park is presented by Marrickville Council and is a United Nations International Year of the Potato endorsed event.
The Humble Spud!
Exhibits range from Petersham artist Ernest Aaron’s fictitious brand of ‘Anti-Hero Vodka’, sculptural pieces dedicated to his art world anti-heroes and in reference to the potato as a major ingredient in the white spirit. To Chicago artist Eric Bartholomew’s community collaborative postcard installation, where the artist a.k.a. Uber Tuber will place 100 postcards celebrating heart shaped potatoes, which he searches for on a continual basis, on a plinth. The artist is asking potato lovers to write back messages in regards to the humble potato with the title ‘Share the Potato Love’.
Images (left to right): Ernest Aaron, ANTI-HERO VODKA (concept detail)
Eric Bartholomew, A Heart Shaped Potato Stands Out In A Crowd (postcard detail).
The humble potato will be utilised as an energy generator in three artworks by Sydney artists; Amanda Hills – who will bring her copper wire sculpture ‘Ohmnivore’ to life, Lou Steer & Brian Martin - who will power up their ‘Tick Tock the ‘Tatter Clock’, and Rosalyn Pursey – who will attempt to run her MP4 player using potatoes as batteries in ‘Cheap as Chips’.
The collaborative community spirit continues with ‘Give and Take’, an installation by Katonah, New York artist Shiela Hale and Brendan Penzer. The artists are asking the community to bring along spuds to donate to the installation, which will emulate Hale’s ''The Potatoes Act Out a Paradigm Shift” in which 3000 spuds were utilised to create the largest potato art installation in Maine, US, in the mid 1980s. Penzer will, towards the end of the exhibition, package the spuds that have amassed and have them delivered to Sydney’s needy and hungry such as refuge centres for the homeless.
Marrickville artist, Peter McGuiness will undertake a wedding and burial ceremony with a potato and a mango, in a performance artwork symbolising the connection between he and his wife and their ancestral lands. As McGuiness (from Irish descendants) explains, the potato and the mango are “two food items that have been brought to this land from our distant ancestral shores and have grown and entwined with each other. Maundrell Park will show a ritual combining a wedding and a funeral; you can wear white or black - it's up to you.”
Images (left to right): Peter McGuiness, The Mango/Aloo Project (part 1) (concept detail),
Gilbert Grace, "Folie adieu" (concept drawing).
Sydney artist, Gilbert Grace is also inspired by issues to do with the potato and Ireland, in particular the potato famine of the 1840s. His work ‘Folie adieu’ is a powerful symbol of issues pertaining to migration and belonging, in which the carcass of a punt boat accompanied by spades as oars is mired in the earth, motionless.
Visiting French artist, Thomas Guichard will exhibit ‘Papillotes, proudly made in Australia, 2008’. Residing in Glebe, Guichard melds a part of his home culture with a part of Australian. He has been touched by the pride ‘Aussies’ display on their product packaging. Pamela Brenner, a Sydney artist concerned with issues of environment and community, will be installing a large scale abacus made from potatoes. With potatoes as the counting beads, ‘The COMPUTATER – calculating growth in the market’ is a 3D abacus comprising 5 parallel Slavonic abaci, which represent the different potato producing world markets.
Images (left to right): Thomas Guichard, Papillotes, proudly made in Australia, 2008 (concept drawing),
Pamela Brenner, The COPUTATOR - calculating growth in the market (concept drawing).
From Bellingham, London, Lucy Kippin will present her sculptural installation ‘Dig for Victory’ a work where potatoes have been cast from wax, tea leaves and soap and marbles in a work about the nature of futility. Visiting Victorian artist, Kitty Owens will show her artist book ‘Postcards from the Potato’ about the journey and migration of potatoes throughout the world, linking South America and Australia, and an installation of images transferred onto pillows, ‘Potato Dream Sequence’ positioned in a garden bed in the park.
Images (left to right): Lucy Kippin, Dig for Victory,
Kitty Owens, Postcard from the Potato (detail).
Last, but not least, New York potato artist Jeffrey Allen Price will exhibit a video installation called ‘I Never Get Tired of Saying Potato’, a 45 minute close-up of the artist repeating the word potato. Price is somewhat of a potato art guru, having explored the spud as a medium and theme for his artistic practice for over a decade. He is also the curator of the exhibition ‘Cult of the Potato’ which is touring globally. As Price sums up, “I am fascinated by the historical significance, nutritional value, agricultural abundance, energy potential and cultural significance of the versatile tuber. I love using the potato as a theme and medium because it has the potential to span the full spectrum of artistic sensibilities - from dead serious important food source to common and hilarious spud.”