Beatrice Magalotti is a contemporary Australian sculptor whose work engages with a range of themes including mythology (particularly Norse and Greek) and migration. Her work is informed by her experience as a woman. Invisible migrants, stories of travel and life journeys are poetically evoked rather than described. By refusing to engage with popular narratives of migration (notably spectacular media images of suffering individuals and groups) the artist seeks to create a space for reflective and introspective dialogues. Beatrice uses embroidery and sewing in her work. Traces of stitching and details of textures of fabrics – traditional female responsibilities – are visible on her bronzes and ceramics. The delicate gestures of hand-crafting soft and ephemeral materials (fibre and fabric) are by a series of processes (moulding, casting, and patination) changed into hard and permanent materials (bronze and ceramics). This work is far broader that any specific migrant situation – it is about the human condition of most of the Australian population, and a global condition that crosses the centuries, a response to food scarcity, war and economic opportunities. Recent works have become more collaborative. In 42 Days, 42 Boats, 42 Installations Beatrice led a collaborative response to the pandemic. It playfully circumvents our lack of global mobility by offering unexpected and serendipitous vistas and creative narratives. The photographic project celebrates the spectacular and the quotidian as the boats navigate familiar, local and exotic, distant horizons. Other recent collaborative projects include Beatrice’s Covid-19 Postcards and A+B.
Below Beatrice talks about the Rutherglen Tastes of Art prize and her recent work…
What made you decide to enter your work into the Rutherglen Tastes of Art Prize last year?
I was very intrigued that the Rutherglen Tastes of Art was showing 3D works, and it was an opportunity to share my work after a year of proposed or cancelled exhibitions. I had never been to Rutherglen so I thought I would have a day out and deliver my work in person, check out the town and have some lunch. I dropped off my work at the Memorial Hall. There were artists coming and going while I was there. I had lunch at “The Other Place’, one of the sponsors of the event, checked out the local Op Shop then drove home.
I plan to enter the 2022 Rutherglen Tastes of Art prize.
What was your motivation, inspiration and the story behind the work that you entered in the 2021 Rutherglen Tastes of Art prize?
Belongings, was a continuation of my migration series which I started in Denmark at an art residency in 2019.
The sacks contain the migrants’ personal items; the crudely stitched seams are metaphors for fragility, the act of mending clothes and patching together our lives. The content of the sacks/pillows are left very much to the view’s imagination.
Tell us a bit about your 42 days 42 boats 42 installations project work and what inspired this?
I live in Melbourne and once the COVID19 Stage 4 lockdown s on 2 August 2020. I needed to do something to keep me working on my art practice. The lockdown was originally going to be for 42 days so I decided to start a project that would make me do something every day and include the 42 as part of the project. Melbournians were limited to travel within a 5km radius, and only allowed to leave home for four reasons.
Once the boats were fired and glazed, I photographed the boats in different environments. I contacted a number of overseas artists and asked if they would be interested in photographing one of my ceramic boats and posting the photos on Instagram to give the boats a bit of a log of their journey. Australians were still unable to travel overseas for other than exceptional purposes, but there was still a limited parcel post. I could not leave Australia but my boats could. In 1 February 2021 I sent 6 boats on their way, two to the United States, three to Europe and one to Western Australia. A further three boats have been sent overseas, to Denmark, United States and one to United Kingdom.
Once the Stage 4 lockdown was lifted I was also able to photograph the boats outside the 5km radius from my home.
Boats that were made in an extreme lockdown when we could not move more than 5km are now travelling the world.
I will be exhibiting 42 days 42 boats 42 installations in 2022, with the first exhibition at Various Space Gallery in Foster.