Image: 'Rasping Layers' acrylic, ink, carbon on board. 50 x 50 cm. © 2015 Katy Mutton, All Rights Reserved.
From the exhibition Post-War: Thousand Mile Stare, ANCA Gallery, Canberra. April 2015.
* this is an undated letter from the 1920s - in the first year or so of Oz's arrival in the Red Cliffs district.
Hope you received my letter on Saturday but feel doubtful as the letter would not reach town until about 11 o’clock & that would be too late for the delivery. I told you in my last letter that I had started graft. I have been picking figs for a couple of days. I cannot say I like fig picking as the figs make your hands very sore. I had my first lesson in plowing yesterday & didn’t do too bad. It is rather hard at first but when you get into the knack it is easy.
We are making a tennis court up here, the next door neighbours are pretty keen so they come over & give us a hand. If you have my racquet you might send it along, that is if you are not going to use it. Last night we drove into the town Saturday night being the late night up here. All the people seem to come in from the surrounding districts & the town is just packed with people. It is rather a nice town; the streets are nice and wide & the main street has nice green lawns up the centre. The band generally plays on Sunday evening & a pretty good crowd congregates. The only drawback is that the roads are not metal but lately they have been putting limestone on. It would be simply awful if it rained much here as a few points of rain make it very muddy.
I met two 21st boys at the boarding house when I was there; they said they had been all over Victoria but couldn’t settle down to anything & when I went down there to see if there were any letters last night they had gone. Well dearest what have you been doing since I left. I can just imagine you dressing up in that pretty frock this morning & going off to church. The Applebys are Methodists so I suppose I will be the same for a while; the Presbyterian is the nicest church up here. I think it has only been built recently; your church is also represented but is rather small I think. I asked you in my last letter to send up my [xxx]. Take a tally of all it costs you, sending me stuff & I will fix up when I come down. Well dear old girl I have nothing more to tell you but long for you every day & only wish you were with me, never mind, we must take the good with the bad & hope for the future.
Au Revoir Sweetest & dearest. Write me a nice long letter like the last.
Fond love Ozzie xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Love to Mother & Kind regards to your family.
Image: Katy Mutton 'Red Cliffs, Early Days' 2015, acrylic and ink drawing on kozo with carbon impression
I've been busily working away in the studio getting ready for my exhibition Post-War: Thousand Mile Stare, in Canberra, opening at ANCA gallery on 22 April 2015. This is a detail image of one of the mapping pieces in its preliminary stages. The process involves a series of layers. First I paint the inks onto washi paper, building the ground, then I impress the mapping linework onto the surface. I then assign colour codes for each block depending on the first soldier settler's history. Each block is differentiated by their history for example, those that were cancelled by the commission for 'non-compliance', those that were sold or abandoned, those belonging to men that died. The image displayed is the largest piece in the show and the blocks that will now be filled in based on its history to 1939, the beginning of World War II.
This is my studio desk at the moment - I have been undertaking multiple breakdowns of the blocks based on their history. Breaking things down and coding them gives me a better sense of the history - I feel much more connected. This is a Parish map showing Red Cliffs - I don't have a date for it but based on the names noted it's possible its around 1931. Its fairly easy to work out the original blocks from this as any that were sub-divided are noted as divisions of the same number. In this map I have selected a time period (up to 1931) and then coded the blocks based on voluntary departures, cancellation of lease by the commission, longstanding lease holders and deaths. These represent the first land holders only.
I'm still working on this one but it is interesting - there do initially appear to be some clusters - what I would love to do is correlate these with the topography. Some blocks were said to be almost unworkable.
Its always tricky starting a new body of work - its scary and thrilling at the same time. I try to immerse myself in what I'm interested in and then get all my materials out and see what happens. With this project I feel that the works need to be layered, with so many stories and history I can't picture the pieces any other way. I've started my first new works very simply, dying fine papers with inks for texture and exploring various line types. The image here is a detail from one of these first pieces called Pledge. The work is built up on an ink dyed washi base and then I have explored various ways of layering irrigation channels. The road mapping comes next and then blocks. I have selected particular blocks with their original numbers and names and others are simply painted out in gold. I need to get hold of some better map copies to really get into some large layouts but as preliminary pieces I'm pretty happy with the aesthetic.
Maps will be a critical element to these works so I'm starting out with lines and block forms from copies of original land scheme maps. I've always found maps to be really exciting and can be so beautiful and diverse. I love the different line types and weights and tonal techniques used for old and new. In my first degree I studied environmental design focused on architectural interior work. We learnt to draft by hand and I came to love the process, there is a rhythm to it, methodical mark-making. In my work I approach the production as a meditative process and take time with the detail.
Katy Mutton is a Canberra based, Australian Visual Artist whose practice is informed by an ongoing concern around trauma and warfare and how these relate to our cultural identity and history. For more information on her artwork visit www.katymutton.com