On the 21st of July 2018, Clare boarded the ANL Wahroonga container ship and steamed from Australia to China – dwelling in motion for 13 days. The route roughly mirrored that of her great-great-grandmother who travelled from Australia to Asia in 1874, a family narrative that has been passed down between generations in the form of a well-thumbed diary written during her adventure.
As the climate warms, and the icecaps of the South and North Pole melt, they release their neatly chronicled archive of information – the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883, the industrialisation of Australia - into the chaotic, churned up, archive of the sea. Here the memory of the melting icesheets churns together with splinters of shipwrecks from the First Wold War, fragments of the waste created by my great-great-grandmother and I while at sea, and particles from one of the five Solomon Islands already lost to rising sea levels. Water, unlike land sustains a “nonlinear, non measurable notion of time”.
While of course our place in the ocean was marked through pinpoint accurate GPS when you are out at sea, with no landmasses visible the timelessness of the ocean is combined with a sense of placeless-ness as the ship plungers, up down and across the surface. Blue Ontology (a photo of the sea taken twice a day between Australia and China) was an attempt to find a visual language to capture where we had been and what that looked like, to mark in a diary the geographic formations I was feeling underfoot, and seeing roll out in front of me.
Blue Ontology was exhibited as part of The Place Between at the Mission to Seafarers, Melbourne, 2018. It was shortlisted for the Nillumbik Prize and re-exhibited at Montsalvat, Melbourne, 2019.
Blue Ontology (a photo of the sea taken twice a day between Australia and China). Found timber box/digitally printed 3 mm acrylic/paper.
Get There in a Canter
Growing up in rural Australia my family and I battled the invasive species introduced by settlers. Ferdinand Von Mueller’s blackberries filled every gully with their prickly entanglement of deep green leaves, Thomas Austin’s rabbits deforested swathes of land until all that was left was bulldust brown, and Jane Paterson’s echium planagineum (Paterson’s curse) blanketed kilometres of farm land in luminous purple. The devastating impact of invasive species on Australia’s unique ecology could be described in a few shades of colour. Get There in a Canter reflects on how climate change is enacting a new devastation on the Australian landscape by once again reflecting on how it shifts the hues of our unique ecologies. In the last couple of years acres of coral has bleached, thousands of ghostly fish have floated to the surface of stagnant rivers and the ground of rural Australia, backed by drought, has transformed from a pallet of golden browns, silvery greens and shimmering purples, to a whitish-grey scored by deep black cracks that suck thirsty kangaroos into the heart of the earth.
By Clare McCracken, 2019. Get There in a Canter was commissioned by CLIMARTE for Art + Climate = Change Festival and exhibited throughout inner city Melbourne as a large format poster.
You Are Here
In 2017 Clare used Google street view to explore the layers, textures and tones of Havana. The panoramic photographs that she found were filled with tiny glitches – faces morphed into cobblestones, dogs congealed with humans and the shadow of the photographer cutting across façades. These glitches represented the edge of the internet, a moment unmapped where anything was possible. Pixel-by-pixel Clare converted the glitches into pocket-sized cross-stitches before travelling to Havana where she completed the embroidery on the original site. In the photographs of her site-specific stitching her body now blocks the information that the glitches once covered - a fragment of the city remains unmapped, a place where anything is possible.
By Clare McCracken with Andrew Ferris, 2017-19. Exhibited as part of Intercambio, curated by Damien Smith for the Bienal de la Habana 2019.
Three Strolls Through the Broadmeadows Town Hall
The Broadmeadows Town Hall has been the heart of its community for 50 years. On the precipice of its redevelopment Hume City Council invited a group of artists to develop site responsive works that celebrated its history, architecture and the events that it had housed. Largely untouched since its construction the building was a time capsule. An attendance chair sat at the entrance to ladies comfort station, phone booths filled the foyer and large historic stainless-steel stockpots sat stoically in the kitchen. Over three days Clare sketched three strolls through the site capturing these details and many more. The sketches were then turned into a series of concertina books that were exhibited to the public as part of Civic Heart.
By Clare McCracken, 2014. Exhibited at the Broadmeadows Town Hall as part of Civic Heart. This work resides in the Hume City Council permanent art collection.
In 2014 Clare and photographer Pia Johnson spent two months exploring Fawkner, a multicultural, post Second World War suburb in Melbourne’s north. The interviews they conducted and the drawings and photographs they created were turned into an artist book which captures the the people, objects, architecture and stories that make Fawkner unique – the narratives of place.
Produced, written and illustrated by Clare McCracken, Photography by Pia Johnson 2014. Commissioned by Moreland City Council and North Western Mental Health.
Hard and eBook copies of this book are still available upon request - firstname.lastname@example.org
Josie and the Constellations
For thousands of years cultures have looked at the night sky, drawing lines between the stars to create constellations. For each culture these shapes have shifted and changed to reflect, both the objects in their immediate surroundings, and the myths that dominate their identity. Josie and the Constellations playfully looks at the constellations of the past, while imagining both the observation deck, and constellations, of contemporary suburban Australia.
By Clare McCracken, 2014. Commissioned by the City of Greater Dandenong for Nocturnal light festival. Josie and the Constellations was re-exhibited in 2015 at the Wide Open Road contemporary art space, Castlemaine.
Three Walks Through the CBD
In the introduction to A Room of One’s Own Virginia Woolf describes in detail an afternoon where she used the act of walking through public space as a way of working through complex ideas. Just as she finds herself on the precipice of a discovery she is interrupted by a gardener who rushes forward to point out that, in her absentmindedness, she had strolled from the path onto a section of grass set aside for male academics. Most cities tend not to officially regulate and restrict the mobility of women; however, as Plan International Australia’s recent survey highlights (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-12/nearly-a-third-of-young-women-dont-feel-safe-in-public-places/7405434) – women continue to restrict their own movement through public space due to perceptions of safety. Three Walks Through the CBD maps the diverse usage and interaction of women within Melbourne’s CBD during three slow walks down La Trobe Street, Little Collins Street and Hosier Lane. The map documents both the presence of women in the city, and their incredibly diverse usage of its public spaces as a way of offering an insight into how we may design cities with the uses of women in mind.
By Clare McCracken, 2016. Exhibited at the 3 O’Clock Gallery, Melbourne. Commissioned by Plan International.
DC Tosh from The Bill once announced; ‘behind every set of lace curtains there is a keen set of eyes’. Neighbourhood Watch was a playful reflection on the innate desire we all have to look into our neighbour’s business. It was also a humorous response to current urban design theory which argues that a sense of community safety can be generated through eyes – the feeling that at all times you can be seen by, and interact with, other humans (if you so desire).
By Clare McCracken. Projected for three weeks on an eight-story projection site, Thomas Street, Dandenong. Commissioned by City of Great Dandenong 2010 and re exhibited in 2012.
Using the lavish interiors of pre-revolution France as an inspiration, Throne created a chance encounter in a toilet cubical for Federation Square visitors. Juxtapositioned against the dark, minimalist and functional architecture of the toilets, the installation questioned the areas that are generally appreciated in architecture. The collective time spent on the toilet contemplating the building surrounding it, is far greater than the time we spend gazing at fascinatingly detailed facades; yet the area rarely gets the attention it deserves during the design process of public space and public amenity.
By Clare McCracken, 2009. Commissioned by Federation Square.
Inspired by Jeffery Smart's surreal urban landscapes and the backdrop of the Eastlink motorway Speed Cheek transforms the infrastructure of motor vehicle control into a site for play. Two solar powered LED screens hover above a shared-user path recording and projecting the speed of pedestrians and cyclists as they ride, run, walk and cartwheel. A smiley face follows each speed because these devices are not there to control but encourage – go slow, go fast, or go medium-paced and Speed Check will give you a big grin!
By Clare McCracken, 2008. Permanent installation Oakwood Park, Noble Park. Commissioned by City of Greater Dandenong and ConnectEast.
The Affirmation Board
Variable Message Signs (VMS) are used to direct people around road works, alert drivers to hazards and to advertise. Their language is functional, authoritarian, official and impersonal. As a form of signage they symbolise roadwork delays, detours and other such inconveniences.
The Affirmation Board was a VMS gone rogue: projecting compassion, humour and affection into the heart of the City of Greater Dandenong. Deployed as the city underwent substantial redevelopment it ruptured the frustrations of living in a city consumed by construction, creating intimate moments between urban perambulators and the infrastructure of roadworks.
By Clare McCracken, 2007. Temporary installation Dandenong Train Station, Palm Plaza and Thomas Street, Dandenong. Commissioned by City of Greater Dandenong and VicUrban.
Clare McCracken acknowledge the Woi Wurrung and Boon Wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nations on whose unceded lands she lives and works. She respectfully acknowledge their Ancestors and Elders, past and present.