The Gang made the pilgrimage to Sydney on the weekend before last for the Ausglass 2011 Conference, and what an interesting time we had of it. Megsie had been invited to speak and we rather suspect that there was a blood sport angle at play, which was fair enough given the conference thematic (critical discourse, engaging in questions beyond the focal point of studio glass, yadda yadda) – and we’re always up for it in any case.
Megsie delivered her usual no-held-punches view of the potentially dire straits that Australian Glass finds itself in and, as we all expected, the dogs were quick to bark. More importantly, however, it set the conference attendees off on a running discussion/debate that lasted the remainder of the day (and, in fact, all the way past the final-party stumps.) So, Mission Accomplished, n’est pas?
What the knicker-wetters don’t seem to appreciate is that the whole point of a conference is to provide a robust platform that proactively encourages diverse points of view. What we usually get are the standard worn-out establishment blandishments and an unending series of self-congratulatory cant. It’s got to stop. All power to the Conference Chair, Andrew Lavery, for recognising this and having a go at breaking the mould. It’s gunna be a tough nut to crack, but ya gotta start somewhere.
The biggest disappointment of the Conference was the number of people who weren’t there. We’d been really looking forward to catching up with all our fave bods. Ah well, never mind – we met some lovely new peeps and had long raves with the New Zealand mob, so all was not lost.
Lots of people asked for a transcript of Megsie’s speech and we are happy to send it (email us at firstname.lastname@example.org) but we’ve decided not to post it on the bloggo because it’s really a pastiche of all the things we’ve been banging on for years about and there’s no need for the faithful to have to hear it all again.
The other point we would like to make is that given the constraints of the half hour time limit (incorporating a PowerPoint slide-fest) the speech was necessarily generalized and consequently rather black and white. In reality the topography of this discourse is a nuanced complex of rolling shades of grey.
Megsie’s speech was merely an opening shot across the bows. A call to arms, if you like, or a hello, is anybody out there? kind of thing. Unless the Australian glass movement becomes genuinely inclusive of its broader membership, and breaks free from the conservative/limiting control of the marketeers (gallerists) and the culture of self-preservation from the Establishment, it is in serious danger of disappearing up its own arse.
Come on peeps, it’s time for some serious CPR in the sector. It’s not the business of artists to bore people to death. Reinvigoration, that’s what’s needed. It’s time to spread the love a little bit further than the beiged-out court favourites.
One of the highlights of the weekend was running into Robyn Campbell (and Phil) on the ferry – they weren’t in Sydney for the conference at all, and Megsie had one of those hideous moments of forgetting Robyn’s name; not who she was, just a nanna moment name-wise…
Anyhoo, Robyn gave the Gang our very first casting workshop and remains a formative influence. So the strange cosmic coincidence of crossing paths actually lent a certain poignancy to the weekend.
We flew in Saturday arvo and out early Monday morning, so only caught one exhibition opening; at Gaffa Gallery, where we didn’t take many photos of work and didn’t manage to snaffle a room list…so apologies to the artists for the lack of credits. (If anyone fancies sending through details we’d be ever grateful.)
More happy snaps here.
[BTW; for those of you who keep whining about Glass Central Canberra hiding cowardly behind a veil of anonymity we refer you to The Kelly Files page, which has been in place since the blog’s inception. Over the last four years we’ve had reports of repeated snipings along these lines – always from the Court, of course – and so to those of you involved, all we can say is, ‘what a Wally you are’. n(Ed)]