Gaye Paterson - 'Street Walker'
Wednesday 1 - Saturday 18 June 2022
Gaye Paterson's exhibition was originally planned for 2021 after we emerged from a long lockdown. We believed our confinement had ended - wrong. Dates were moved, then moved again and we all found ourselves in a form of freefall coming in and out of 'softer' lockdowns. These art works are a representation of pages torn out of Melbournians’ fragmented lives during our time of unclear circumstances.
Paterson lives in the CBD. Her lockdown world was more of a Jeffrey Smart world where she walked endlessly along empty, silent streets.
Streets that had now become deserted except for the beyond-help homeless and the rattle of empty trams.
Streets that displayed torn posters of events now cancelled or past; protests that had long dispersed; sales that were over.
These tattered posters with their splashes of colour in the grey stillness became the inspiration for this series, Street Walker.
As a graphic designer, it was easy for Paterson to become attracted to these posters. Their faded information, their disintegration into abstract forms left a hint of memory of how our lives had once been. She walked every day, walking endlessly along streets and lanes witnessing everything from posters, signs, street art and graffiti.
And now a new form of street art was appearing on our footpaths: crosses. Crosses handmade hastily in lurid coloured tape now controlled where we could stand and wait for a cup of coffee or take-away food. Crosses as warnings to where we could not sit, not any more, not until further notice in an unspecified time in our future.
Like many artists, we were victims of our environment; good or bad, we feed off the images. So Paterson became the street walker and the streets of inner Melbourne her galleries and museums. Often she walked the same streets again and again: her vision became macro, focusing on small areas that was seen as abstract shapes.
Printmaking is a tactile and hands-on medium. With etching, you can scratch gently into the metallic surface or attack it with a power tool. It's an adventure where you can make aquatint tones and textures, mix etching with relief and do all sorts of creations with paper. These are the basic techniques Paterson has used in these images, then allowed the matrix to become the repetitious, reproduced poster which have been altered and interacted with by adding to the pristine original.
I now invite you to walk these streets with me.