Art student belts up for graduation

Published 18 September 2008

For Chez Baker, the ingredients for successfully completing a doctorate are hard work, determination…and 75,000 belts.

The Terranora-based student of visual arts will graduate with a PhD this Saturday at Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus after concluding a four-year project using belts as her primary material.

Entitled ‘The Seduction of Loss,’ the project features full sized columns, furniture, panels and a 15m x 5m floor piece, all woven from belts.

Chez said the inspiration for her work had come from a casual remark made by her late father while he was alive.

“My father was a Scotsman and a man of few words, but I remember him telling me once that in the Second World War, prisoners would soak their belts in water and then drink it to regain some of their lost body salts,” said Chez.

“I’ve no idea if it’s true, but because it was uncommon for him to share his thoughts, and because it was such an unusual idea it became one of those random moments that I have always remembered when I think of him.

“It occurred to me that all second-hand belts hold something of the owner and represent a moment in time, so I decided to do the project on memories using belts as a my material.”

The belts, which were sourced from op shops located from Lismore to the Gold Coast, have been crafted into a table and chairs to symbolise the table Chez and her father were sitting at when he made his remark, while the columns were constructed to represent ruins and the idea that memories fade over time.

Chez, who hopes to continue with her current part-time interior design work while also looking for employment as a teacher, said her family had been supportive of her studies.

“I have always loved art, but by doing the course at University I found I pushed myself further and researched new directions and avenues to realize my ideas,” she said.

“At one point the belts covered the house and my husband and 14 year-old son had to walk over them for weeks, but they never complained. They were wonderful – and luckily they love my work.”

A total of 609 students, representing all schools and colleges at SCU, will graduate on Saturday, with 252 attending the ceremony. There are 18 PhD and 2 DBA graduands to be conferred and a Chancellor’s Medal will be presented to Dr Meg O’Reilly for her outstanding thesis.

The graduation ceremony details for Saturday, September 20 at the Whitebrook Theatre, Lismore campus, Military Road, East Lismore are:

9.00 am

Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples
School of Arts and Social Sciences
School of Education
School of Environmental Science and Management
School of Health and Human Sciences

11.30 am

Faculty of Business and Law

Graduate College of Management
School of Commerce and Management
School of Law and Justice
School of Tourism and Hospitality Management

Photo: Chez Baker's table and chairs - made entirely of belts.

Media contact: Media contact: Zuleika Henderson media officer, Southern Cross University Tweed Gold Coast Campus: 07 5506 9385 or 0408 644533