Tai Snaith – A World of One’s Own

Tai Snaith and Lisa Waup_ for A World Of One's Own at MPRG_ 2020_ by Theresa Harrison_ low res.jpg

A podcast series and exhibition
6 March – 23 May 2021

Tai Snaith, Elizabeth Gower, Katherine Hattam, Deborah Kelly, Lily Mae Martin, Fiona McMonagle, Sally Smart and Lisa Waup.

With a nod to Virginia Woolf’s iconic 1929 essay ‘A Room of One’s Own’, artist Tai Snaith has conducted a series of podcast conversations with female-identifying artists whom she admires. In this third series Snaith presents relaxed, colloquial exchanges with artists selected from the MPRG works on paper collection.

Snaith explores shifts and similarities that artists face in their lives and artistic practices and attempts to break down the how and why of making art. They look at physical processes and how they relate to not only outcomes, but also unconscious, emotional or non-visual parallels and needs.

These conversations will be launched alongside an exhibition featuring MPRG collection works by these artists, alongside additional works from the collection by Sally Smart and Katherine Hattam, who Snaith has previously interviewed. The exhibition also includes a new artwork on paper made by Snaith, inspired by learnings from these discussions.

A World of One’s Own is an ongoing document which began in 2017 at ACCA and has had further iterations and exhibitions at Sarah Scout Presents in October 2018 and The Art Gallery Of Ballarat in 2019.

Audio producer: Camilla Hannan
Photograph of Tai Snaith and Lisa Waup by Theresa Harrison

As artists, how can we fill in the gaps of knowledge about our cultural histories? How can nature and country act as a connector? How can collaboration help strengthen our practice?

Tai Snaith kicks off this new series by speaking with Gundijmara/ Italian/ Torres Strait islander artist LISA WAUP about her powerfully personal, shield-like work on paper from the MPRG collection called ‘Admit to Care.’

Together they discuss Lisa’s process of collecting history and stitching it together in order to ‘protect the layers.’

What does it mean to push past perfectionism? How can feeling powerless create more power for us in the end? How do we strike a balance between depicting the absurdity of life and the serious nature of compulsion?

In this episode Tai Snaith and Lily Mae Martin start by deciphering her work on paper from the MPRG collection called ‘Wrestling.’ They go on to unpack a series of ideas around how we see the female body, comfort zones, censorship and control.
Together they navigate the very personal terrain of pushing through self-loathing and how making art relates to motherhood, career, health and life.

How can the way in which something is painted affect the way we read it? How is the self-discipline involved in painting similar to the self-discipline of an athlete? How can we forget the cost of our materials in order to paint freely?

In this episode Tai Snaith converses with Fiona McMonagle about her watercolour painting ‘Wonky’ from the MPRG collection. This work is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Fiona’s fascination with complicated female subjects and making up her own rules. Here, she reveals her understanding of the medium of watercolour and her willingness to fail as part of the process.

How can the overload of images in daily life be seen as a positive thing? How can we keep ideas alive over decades of practice? How do you KEEP EVERYTHING and not become a hoarder?

In this conversation Tai Snaith and Elizabeth Gower discuss an early work of hers on paper called ‘Precious Life’ from the MPRG collection. They explore the practice of collecting and sorting both actual materials and symbols and how it has adapted and changed over her life. Elizabeth shares how she learnt to ‘accept the chaos.’

Image: Elizabeth Gower in front of 'Found Images' NGV Melbourne,1987 (photo: John Brash) from 'Portrait of an Artist as a Young Woman' 1974 – 2020.

As artists, how we can learn to use our megaphones to create a world we can bear to live in? Can a knife have a mind of it’s own? Can desire be an animating force?

In this conversation Tai Snaith converses with Deborah Kelly about her animated paper work ‘LYING WOMEN’ from the MPRG collection and the process of making it. They talk of freeing the female figures from white man’s HIStory and letting them rub up against each other in HERstory. They go on to explore a series of juicy topics from starting her own religion to using art-making as an attempt to save her own life.

How do our gestures and bodies become part of our work? And how is the act of cutting a feminist action?

Tai Snaith and Sally Smart talk about female identity and archetypes of women such as pirates, witches and more- ideas which have been present in Sally’s life and imagination since she was a child. We talk about the act of cutting and how the female identity is both fragile and sturdy, but ultimately ‘re-arrangeable’ and fluid.

How do we access our True Selves?

Tai Snaith and Katherine Hattam discuss how making and depicting space can merge the inside (mental) world with the outside (public) world of politics and ideas. Reflecting on Katherine’s interest in psychoanalysis and unconscious time vs real time and how family life can be political.