Recently I was asked to give the opening speech for a fabulous artist Ms Anne Chibnall. Anne and I worked together making films for about ten years at Future Films. In that time she became a fast friend. Here's the speech along with some of her films.
I acknowledge that tonight we walk and talk on Wadawurrung Country. Together we acknowledge the people of the Kulin Nation. Once was, is now, always will Aboriginal Land.
I feel incredibly honoured to be asked to open Anne’s exhibition. Thank you Mitty.
Anne’s Fix It Up Native Creative Creation
So like Anne – to name the thing exactly what it is…
Anne – action, little to big, loud, pinks and reds, fully grown.
Pink – Salmon Pink, Dark Pink, Crimson Pink, Raspberry Pink, Pink Smoothie gives me pink, Bright Pink. Give me pink. Wild Pink. Pink Pink.
Fully Grown – I am a machine, I am texture, I am a filmmaker, my hair is pink, I am green, I love pink, once I was 18, now I am 36. I am fully grown and everything else is different.
Anne Chibnall. Darling Anne, Annie, Chibs!
I met Anne when she was 18. An honest to goodness wild woman. Wild, crazy, out of control, so much energy, so many ideas… just like her mum Mitty!
An artist who could not then, nor now, be contained.
Anne I hope your ok with me talking about you and your work in an academic way for a bit. Talking about you, not to you! It will help everyone here climb inside your works, sit down and think a bit. Ok?
In the 40s French Artist Jean Dubuffet used the term Art Brut, raw art. Later rephrased as Outsider Art. Artists working outside accepted aesthetic norms, working outside the mainstream, outside accepted culture. Outside. Hence outsider.
Anne’s work is Outsider Art. Art Brut. Anne told me that sometimes people think she is a stranger. They tell her this by making the 'crazy' sign, rotating a finger near their temple. So Anne might characterize her work as Stranger Art.
Dubuffet characterized art brut as:
"Those works created from solitude and from pure and authentic creative impulses – where the worries of competition, acclaim and social promotion do not interfere – are, because of these very facts, more precious than the productions of professionals. After a certain familiarity with these flourishings of an exalted feverishness, lived so fully and so intensely by their authors, we cannot avoid the feeling that in relation to these works, cultural art in its entirety appears to be the game of a futile society, a fallacious parade." — Jean Dubuffet. Place à l'incivisme (Make way for Incivism). Art and Text no.27 (December 1987 – February 1988). p.36 from wikipedia
Dubuffet believed that only Art Brut was immune to the influences of culture, because the artists themselves were not willing or able to be assimilated.
Imagine for a moment being an artist working outside. Outside the mainstream, beyond culture.
When those sometimes people told Anne she was a stranger. Anne told me she is more interested in her work.
I called bullshit!
Really? I said
And she laughs uproariously, body shakingly, eye tearingly, ear achingly. She finds it hard to stop. And I cannot NOT start. Composed again I ask how she feels about it.
She replies, “They are really doing it to themselves.”
Clearly it says more about them than it does about Anne. But she feels it.
Laughing again, she says: “Well sometimes I throw words at them.”
“So they can see what its like… to take me on!"
Sure Anne is an outsider; but she can see clearly through the windows, and wonders why people can’t be happy where they are.
“Don’t put reactions into other people’s heads.” She says.
Then adds: “They are eggheads.”
Recently there have been some media consternation about the use of the R word. I have asked some friends, in private, to edit online posts where they called people they didn’t agree with, the R word. Australian Tennis badboys were asked to publicly apologise for using it.
People I know who have an intellectual disability or mental illness had none of the stupidity or anger these people want to use as a label. So who will stand up? I’m sad that some don't think its an issue; I hope that you do! Folks please don’t use the R word, or any version of it. F’tard seems popular at the moment! It’s hurtful, its ableist, and it’s a complete misnomer.
Anne response? ‘Have your say in the world about how good we are with our creative abilities. Tell the world that. Yeah!” YEAH!!
We’ve had so many adventures together. Anne and I.
The early naughties at Future Films where we had red carpet premieres with champagne, paparazzi, awards and dancing.
2004 when the future filmmakers presented to an online international learning conference, the only Australians representatives, talking about how they make films.
2007 when we flew to Hobart to train other artists with disabilities in filmmaking in a national first.
Or that time when Anne was ensconced in the control room of the award winning TV production No Limits. Our mentor was Walt. Anne hadn’t seen him for some time. And when he walked in Anne announced him! OH HEY HEY you screamed aloud. YOU’RE THE BIG GAY.
Walt was not confronted by the content, he was out and proud, but the 20,000 decibels almost did him in!
Or when your films screened in London, in Melbourne, in Geelong, in Ballarat.
But you were never JUST a filmmaker. Film couldn’t contain the creativity of you!
You were always an artist looking to bring your vision to life, whatever way that came!
So is Anne’s work Outsider Art? Stranger Art? Anne’s work is Art!
Think about these works as directly connected to the artist’s heart, without artifice, without self-consciousness, without pretense or pretext. They simply are explosions from Anne’s heart to you. No interpretation. No intermediary. A direct connection, if you let it.
Anne says of flowers which feature in her exhibition:
- They are all whooshing past,
- Like a picture book in my head,
- I like to know the colours,
- So if I know the flowers names
- Then I can talk to people about the colours
- When you look at flowers
- You feel emotions
- And the emotion is love
- MY emotion is love
So Anne would like to say thank you all for coming and would particularly like to say:
Thanks to Sarah who is always nice, looks out for me and if I'm in trouble helps me understand. She challenges me to add more detail to things. We talk about colours.
What a joy you are Sarah! Working with Anne since 2011. How well I know the honour to work with such an artist as Anne. And others do too. How Anne has grown in the time you have worked with her Sarah. Not completely fully grown yet!
Thanks to my mum and dad, Mitty and Darryl who are the most important people to have.
AKA Big Mitty Little Mitty, Big Anne, Little Anne.
Thanks to Blanch, sorry Blanche (nice BBC style accent getting an airing)
Thanks to the Lady from Backspace (the woman we know as the beautiful Deborah)
Anne said she wants people who come to her exhibition to feel secure. She also said ‘My mum says when you really want something, and its too sweet, split it and have some later!”
We hope you come back later for a second slice!
Here’s to Anne – Hip Hip Hooray
AND THE CROWD GOES WILD>>>>
PS Thanks Anne for the most wondrous painting you gifted me in return! You are a treasure!
Annes films are also fabulous so here are a couple so you can see the breadth of her work.
Anne's Film Mysterious Night:
Anne's Film Big Little Things: