Most works of art have within them the seed of an idea and the opportunity of exhibiting them may make it possible for these seeds to grow in the viewers mind with different interpretations. My original idea is only the beginning and I also follow the development of the work with interest. It is by our looking at the works that they realise their potential.
I do not wish to write about the ideas behind the work but would prefer to talk about the process of making them. In general I do not set out to do a particular show. The work accumulates over time and about 6 months before the show the gallery space becomes an important factor. The complementary or contrasting nature of the works is considered and I take great pleasure in arranging them to animate the space.
Most of the works in this exhibition were actually made over the past 18 months but a few of the images are from three years ago when we visited Iran. Images and materials are regularly collected and they have to wait for their turn.
Our portrait in 'On Reflection' was taken north of Tehran in the beautiful foothills of the Alborz mountains. Sitting by a stream a young Afghani man with a wooden box camera (as I recall from my past) took our picture. Not using any film the negative image was imprinted onto photographic paper and then photographed again to give a positive image. The negative image interested us both more as it appeared that light was emanating from within. The image for 'You become will earth' was collected from a newspaper in Tehran around the same time.
In parallel to projects and other activities and evolving ideas I look around me with open and intuitive eyes, be it in the front gardens of our neighborhood, the peppercorn tree in my back garden (which has come to nothing) or in Bundanon in NSW, collecting maiden hair fern leaves. These collected materials and images become the object of my attention and contemplation. Late last year I found a large broken branch of a white cedar tree in the street which I dragged back to my studio. It took a while before it could tell me what it wanted to be but eventually it grew from a central point to a complex connection of branches which necessitated its transformation into bronze. It became 'Fallen Branch'.
These collected materials and images have their own potential for becoming something else and this is realised by manipulation and arrangement. There are also works that start from an idea and the challenge is to find the right material and method to bring them to life.
The working life of an artist can be solitary which in itself is not a bad thing. I have been fortunate to share this time with my partner, Angela, and we have shared a studio for more than 20 years. Beside collaborating on major projects we have made some sculptural works and a number of works on paper together. Although she is acknowledged through the collaborative works what is not seen is her critical dialogue, advice and assistance for which I would like to thank her. Also I would like to thank Tim Thomson and crew for bronze casting, Catherine Buddle for assistance with digital manipulation of 'On Reflection', Gunter May for his advice and for making the wooden ladder, Ian Burdon who brought me the broken branch with the Jay nest and Minoo Momeni for permission to use the image for 'You will become Earth'.
Hossein Valamanesh, June, 2005