My sculptures and installations utilise everyday objects and materials selected from domestic or renovation sites and industrial areas around Brisbane. Often I utilise materials that contain painterly and worn characteristics. Social, cultural, economic, historical and aesthetic values are implied through the transformation processes involved. In turn, identity, time and place are also evoked.
Spontaneity governs how the found materials and objects are incorporated; I intuitively orchestrate the materials to transform the meaning drawn from its former use in everyday life. The preservation of these discarded materials also evoke those who have lived alongside these remnants; they are inscribed in the work as scratches, cracks and marks that are records of the historical.
This body of work investigates the changing architectural façade of Brisbane. The recycled materials sourced from old “Queenslander” houses, shops and buildings either being demolished or under renovation in Brisbane suggest themes that correspond to social, historical, architectural and domestic concepts relative to the local region. These works are connected to Brisbane in a way that broadens our perception of the city’s identity, people, environment and values.
In all aspects of our lives change is inevitable, yet we retain memories of time, place and identity within a world where we feel most familiar. When viewing art it is often the various impulsive flashes of memory, generated by our past experience with everyday objects, materials and places that link the complexity of the work together. However, it is through the constructive use of what may be considered banal and ordinary objects, united by life, art and memory that perception transforms the everyday into something unexpected and extraordinary.
The familiar, once new, now old, displaced and discarded or simply what remains is reconstructed into a diversity of shapes, textures, colours and materials that unites decades of Brisbane life into faceted mirror and window like formations; transforming and intertwining the past to converge into something new. Segments of old “Queenslander” homes, wardrobes, cupboards, tables and building materials reflect the resurgence of geometric configurations and patterns found throughout art and architecture in Brisbane. Whilst simultaneously, the inscribed gestures and composition of these diverse materials give tangible form to intimate experiences and memories. Within these works the sometimes subtle scratches, cracks and marks create a historical landscape that travels beyond the surface into a bodily interior that transcends the physical into another time and place. It is in the present that remembering takes place, and the process of filtering through the fragments that construct past history and experience that give the object meaning. One also frequently relates and identifies with an object through an emotional connection. This fondness for an object or material consequently is determined by our needs, desires and memory, corresponding with one’s cultural values. Through memory and recollection our perception of ordinary materials in sculpture creates a heightened awareness to question one’s overall comprehension of the work and the way it is negotiated according to our sense of order and own experience of the world.
James Watts 2015
Some locations where materials have been collected
Everton Park, Brisbane
Woolloongabba, Brisbane. Old shops (now new Children's Mater Hospital)