A stitch in time from New York to Murwillumbah

Published 28 June 2012

Rebecca Kinsey and Hannah Simmons.
Former Southern Cross University student Rebecca Kinsey has returned from the heights of showing her art work in front of 24,000 New Yorkers to open a new exhibition at the Tweed River Art Gallery this Friday.

Ms Kinsey, who graduated from the University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Visual Arts, was awarded the prestigious Kaske Fellowship in 2011 which she used to fund the presentation of work in a show in New York following a residency at the Arts Student League, New York.

John and Sheilagh Kaske were Lismore residents who shared a commitment to the local community in the fields of health, education and the arts. Their bequest to SCU enabled the establishment of a scholarship fund in their memory.

“From that residency I met a friend called Hannah Simmons who I have collaborated with since,” Ms Kinsey said.

“We started with some work for a show titled About Face, curated by No Longer Empty as part of the New Museum’s Festival of Ideas for the New City, which included video projected over a mass of origami boxes made of newspaper. We built the beginnings of a wall of boxes in a space on the Lower East Side.

“The show itself addressed alternative ways an exhibition can be created and received, breaking down certain ideas of how art is presented, how art is made and how the audience can relate to an exhibition. Our piece also looked at how a city is built by the labour and stories of its people, where the newspapers represent the stories of the surrounding community, and are built into a cityscape by the exhibition visitors. It was called Under Construction and featured a video on how to construct a box out of newspaper so that people could add to the work as they visited.”

From that beginning, Ms Kinsey and Ms Simmons formed paperJAM and have since collaborated on a number of works, including an interactive light show which was installed at FIGMENT NYC, a participatory arts festival held in June that had 24,000 people visit in two days.

“The idea behind the light installation was that it was art that could be placed in every day spaces and used by every day people,” Ms Kinsey said.

“After doing a number of street installations in Brooklyn, we decided the project was fairly disastrous environmentally speaking, so we rebuilt and rewired the whole installation to run off solar power.”

The 36-year-old has hurried back from the highs of FIGMENT to open her exhibition named UnRavelling at the Tweed River Art Gallery on June 29, from 6pm.

“I became fascinated with walking as an art form and I started noting and marking where I had walked in New York with the idea of stitching it into a subway map but then I discovered this beautiful old 1836 map of New York on a handkerchief and used that,” Ms Kinsey said.

“I then changed the scale and replaced the handkerchief and thread with 410 feet of rope which I trailed out along the streets. It was a rather Sisyphean – in Greek mythology Sisyphus was a king punished by being compelled to roll and immense boulder up a hill, only to watch in roll back down and to repeat this action forever – process.

“UnRavelling relates to my experience traversing between regional NSW and New York City and explores this intersection through diverse threads in a methodical practice – encompassing painting, drawing, sewing, performance, video, repetitive laborious processes, humour, everyday activities and placemaking.”

UnRavelling runs from June 29 to August 12. There will be public programs on July 5 and August 5, check the gallery for details. Photo: Rebecca Kinsey, left, and Hannah Simmons.

Media contact: Steve Spinks media officer, Southern Cross University Gold Coast campus, 07 5589 3024 or 0417 288 794.