Beth is a current WTS studio artist, Board member, general arts babe, and recent Masters graduate in Community Cultural Development from VCA.
So what's her practice?
"Well I like to have a go at nearly every medium sooner or later. I guess I’m driven by ideas rather than materials but I also love materials and form and I specially love working with colours. I also mostly am interested in working socially – with people, both other artists and ppl from other fields and experiences. This seems to me to be the most effective way to work with what we learn as artists about seeing the world in order to ‘rearrange desire’ (as Gayatri Spivak puts it)."
Period as WTS Coordinator: 2011
Why did you apply for the Coordinator position originally? Was it what you expected?
At the time I had just kind of broken as a result of caring too much about a project with Pitjantjatjara people that didn’t work out. I realised that I cared more than my collaborators did about that particular thing which was trying to bring the first female fronted band to bush bands bash which had always been male dominated. It wasn’t a big thing itself but was the final straw after a long period of being very invested and maybe not having adequate frameworks in place to think through our place here. And so when I broke I realised I needed a break from working so intensely inter-culturally. But I didn’t want to leave Alice and art was all I really knew about. I remember I was crying on my bed and I saw on facebook that the job was being advertised and it felt like fate was calling.
How did you find working at WTS? Was it different from arts organisations you had/have since worked for?
Working at WTS was pretty lonely back then. I felt like I spent all year trying to create alluring things that would bring more people to events and exhibitions and into collaboration and it sometimes worked but then the inbetween times were very isolating. Although Dan and Lucy and Kevin and some other people were great support as much as they could be then. WTS is much smaller than other orgs I’ve worked for but this offers a kind of freedom and dexterity which is exciting.
What were some of your fondest memories at WTS?
Well my memories of the space stretch well beyond just when I worked there. So many parties and shows and encounters from before that time and since. Getting people to hump some soft sculptures I made in a tent as part of Free BBQ cash giveaway springs to mind. It was really special getting to work with Pam Lofts on her last show there when I worked there in 2011. Making one of those science experiment baking soda cakes with Jennifer Mills on the floor in maybe 2008 but I can’t remember why? Hoaxing ppl with my ‘Sorry Souvenir Phenomenon’ work. Sorry not sorry. Ummmm soo many peoples creative work over the years. Zine fairs.
Tell us about your greatest achievements during your time as the Coordinator.
Hmmm it definitely wasn’t reconciling MYOB accounts. I’m thinking about the sock puppet night and blindfolded dinner, and the Souvenir group show I co-curated with Franca and also Font Love with Jeff, and maybe planting the seeds for Artist Wants a Life which was difficult in some ways as it turned out but still fostered lots of collaborations and relationships which are enduring. Most things that bring artists together are usually rich in this way, the way that we are in places together consciously. I think I coordinated the biggest visual art program that Wide Open Space has ever had that year – might be wrong about that but we had more funding than usual from elsewhere that we decided to channel that way.
In your eyes, what makes WTS an important organisation?
Well, every year I renew my vows to art as the greatest way of knowing that we have within modernity, although like any great love it’s not without its flaws. So Watch This Space given its smaller scale/DIY approach to facilitating and producing aesthetic experiences and collaborations allows much more experimentation, discussion of failure, gentle moments of beauty, humble approaches to being together in art. WTS is a critical constituent in people’s introduction to Central Australia, hosting what they might find. We should remember that more.
Where are you now: geographically, work-wise, life-wise?
Full-on question. Well I’m back here in Mparntwe Alice Springs still stitched into the textile of the place maybe permanently on some level, as much as we can b. Still making art and supporting exchanges, still feeling like maybe it doesn’t suit me and I should pursue something with more inherent stability but aware of the illusion of that. On track to crazy aunty status but got no nephs or nieces so kind of still get to sit at the kids table. At the moment I’m trying to work out somewhere in the world to go to get a little perspective and thinking about the wild possibility of this mobility and how to construct meaning in modernity.
Has WTS contributed to where you are now?
Let me count the ways. One Two Seventy Five measureless. There are many artist run spaces around in different places. This one responds to being in this place and all the layered complexity of that which unfolds over time. As it unfolds over me in time, Watch This Space remains a venue for people to intersect and make exchanges around that. Art is the body or focus point around which those exchanges are constructed.
Watch This Space as an acrostic poem...
This interview is part of WTS's 2018 program Still Alive After 25 celebrating its 25th Anniversary. Read more interviews with past and current WTS coordinators here