Throughout the course of our lives, we experience the recurrent phenomenon of change. Whether that means finding a new job, or even going through a stressful situation, it represents a time of personal growth and development. Learning how to cope with and recognize these moments allows us to truly find out who we are as human beings and see what we’re made of.
VERGE is the debut solo exhibition of Felicity Townsend, a promising up-and-comer in the contemporary art world. She wishes to take you to the edge of this tense perception, and show that we live within this brief, yet intimate, snapshot of time. Moving in-between these two places of transition that exist within us.
Townsend’s work highlights the significance of these seemingly minuscule events which can affect our lives immensely, helping us tune into both our analytical and creative sides. She is creating a carefully intended experience, which has been articulated to perfection, forming the illusion of rigidity, despite our interpretations of the work being entirely personal.
I spoke with Townsend at GLITCH, the experimental art space in Port Adelaide which is currently home to VERGE, an innovative and very large space which holds limitless possibilities for any kind of artist. I was welcomed into what felt like a rainforest: The auspicious sound of trees and life chattering away, with projections and light toying with the gallery walls. We spoke within the serene ‘El Joc de la Llum’ installation, which translates to ‘The Game of Light’.
Do you have a fascination with data and kind of the analytical side of the artistic process?
In school, I was sort of in two different directions, I wasn’t sure if I would go and study a Bachelor of Physics or go study a Bachelor of Visual Arts. So, the science and the maths and the data sort of analysis side of my brain is still very much there, you know (laughs) although I’m pretty rusty on the actual skills, but you know, it does come through in the research that I do and just the way that things relate.
What kind of research do you do?
Well, my honours research is looking at how the transformations and the screening behaviours exhibited by crystals are sort of mirrored and relates to some human behaviours in terms of tracking and other screening behaviours that humans take, on in terms of hiding and revealing and displaying all sorts of things.
So it’s almost like a reflection of how something at a molecular level can be seen in within us almost?
Yeah! It’s just interesting, that whole nature/culture thing. Here are these random nano-material chemicals and they interact in these sorts of ways. I’m particularly looking at thermochromic ones which react to a heat stimulus. They have these behaviours. But then we have humans who are sentient and they also show similar behaviours, the way that they hide things and reveal things and they track information and that is also seen on a molecular level.
There’s so much in the universe that we don’t see what’s going on, because its invisible and its happening beyond the reaches of our vision. But with these thermochromic ones you can actually see it happening in real time. So that’s why I’ve chosen these ones because it's like 'OH! You can actually see what the whole universe is doing right at this moment.'
What is it that made you choose art over physics in the end?
Um, I think I just sort of enjoyed it more. I felt like there would be a bit more freedom and flexibility you know? While I’m doing art here I can study nano-material's. In my undergraduate grad work I looked at neuro-chemicals in the brain, and you know when you do art you can research anything.
Do you have any ideas for future artworks?
It’s hard to know too far in advance, because it’s always very much a process of research. So, you might start at one point, but then come across something unrelated.
Do you find inspiration from the research then?
Yeah absolutely, I think of something I want to consider but I won’t know necessarily what the outcome will be. My practice is very research heavy, I guess partly just because I’m in art school and that’s what they want (laughs). But you know, I really do enjoy the process of finding these different sources to bring meaning and significance into the work.
In terms of things in this exhibition, I’d like expand on more of the work with the speakers and sound. I’d like to play with that more and see if I can get more recordings from different places in the world, see if I can make it more of a global thing happening. Also, the performance piece, I haven’t done performance work before so I’d like to try dipping my toe in a bit more and see where that takes me.
What is VERGE to you personally?
Well it’s been a marathon. (laughs)
It’s my first solo show in Adelaide, I had just a one-piece show in Barcelona, but to have a complete body of works and showing that and having it out there in community is vulnerable. It feels like it’s a very big beginning step for me, even just to have this opportunity. It’s also been a way for me to pull together a few different themes I’ve been looking at over the past five years and seeing what new directions that’ll take me in. I’m excited about where I can take these things.
What would you like people to take away from VERGE?
Having the work open to people’s interpretations is important to me. Obviously while I’ve got my own intentions and meanings behind the work, allowing it to be open for people to bring in their own world views and experience is important to me. But generally, when people encounter my work I want them to just have the chance to have a free space to stop and think about things for a while. Having a little moment of introspection in the middle of all the hustle and bustle.