42days 42 boats 42installations Numbered and signed by Beatrice Magalotti
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This project is my response to the COVID19 Stage 4 lockdown in Melbourne, originally announced for 42 days in August 2020. Melbournians were limited to travel within a 5km radius and only allowed to leave home for four reasons: one hour of exercise; shopping for essential items; authorised study or work; and care or caregiving. An 8 pm to 5 am curfew was also imposed.
This self-directed project focused my time and energy and helped me to remain productive during the lockdown. I created 42 ceramic boats – one for each day of the lockdown.
After stage four restrictions were relaxed I was also able to photograph the boats outside the 5km radius from my home. I photographed them in different environments and shared them across the globe digitally on Instagram.
I couldn’t leave Australia, but my boats could. The movement was restricted but not imagination.
I contacted a number of artists and asked if they would be interested in collaborating with me; photographing the boats in new locations. With their help these little ceramic boats made it out of Victoria and travelled across the world, connecting us in solidarity against a pandemic at its height. They were photographed in new environments in Western Australia and across Europe and America.
It is important to me that art is enjoyable, and so I gave very few instructions, encouraging my collaborators to play with the project. This took courage and trust, but their subtly differing perspectives on the theme ultimately produced more diverse work.
Not all of the nine women I collaborated with for the interstate and international element of this project identified as visual artists. Among them were an architect, a curator and an engineer. Together we made art as these women brought their own experiences and creativity to the work.
By using social media to exhibit these images, I’ve been able to reach audiences that might not have attended a physical exhibition. These audiences have been able to engage with the project over several months, following the boats as they left Melbourne, Victoria, and finally Australia. Many of the locations used in the installations are recognisable environments, providing a sense of familiarity, connection and inclusion in the work.
Like the crude and fragile stitches on the sides of each boat, the pandemic has forced many of us to patch, mend, and forge new paths. For artists like myself, that meant rethinking our practice, being innovative in our methods and finding new ways to engage with our audiences. By doing part of this project as a durational and digital work, I was able to continue exploring travel and migration through a global pandemic. I have compiled a number of the images into the book and intend to physically exhibit the ceramic boats, book and photographs together.
Beatrice Magalotti 2022
Beatrice is a contemporary Australian sculptor whose work engages with a range of themes including mythology (particularly Norse and Greek) and migration.
For the last three years, Beatrice has been examining themes of migration, journey and travel in her practice. The theme is inspired by contemporary events as well as more personal family histories. Her parents, like so many Europeans, in the aftermath of the Second World War, migrated to Australia. Traveling by boat, their journey took almost two months.
Beatrice’s work explores the commonalities of the migrant experience: excitement, uncertainty and vulnerability. Her work is informed by her experience as a woman. Travel and life journeys are poetically evoked rather than described. The artist seeks to create a space for reflective and introspective dialogues, rather than simply engaging with clichéd narratives of migration (notably spectacular media images of suffering individuals and groups). The outcome of this reflection are the bronze sculptures.
Beatrice also uses embroidery and needlework 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).
Her 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.
Recently, Beatrice has engaged in a number of collaborative works.
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.