Trying To Find Comfort In An Uncomfortable Chair: Celebrating PICA's 30th Anniversary

Trying To Find Comfort In An Uncomfortable Chair
Our eclectic team of writers from around Australia – and a couple beyond – with decades of combined experience and interest in all fields.

Trying To Find Comfort In An Uncomfortable Chair at Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA) presents a space for us to slow right down and to appreciate the work that Sydney-based artist Agatha Gothe-Snape has undertaken to honour PICA’s 30th anniversary year.  

Australia’s only public collection of women’s art; the Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art (CCWA) was first exhibited at PICA in 1995 and what better time than now to revisit it, while highlighting the landmark anniversary date.  

Gemma Weston, Curator of the Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art explains why exhibits such as this should be revisited after a significant length of time has passed by.  

“It’s important that the collection is able to belong to as many people as possible, that it responds to as many different situations as possible in a real and current way. Not something that belongs to the past, but something that’s active and relevant now and can be thought of from a lot of different perspectives. So, engaging a lot of different voices and collaborators in the project is a way of making sure that that kind of multi-faceted view of art and experiences generally, is honoured.”

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Image © Bo Wong

The exhibition includes contributions from more than 20 individual artists and when asked why Agatha Gothe-Snape was chosen as the ‘right candidate’ to take the lead on this project, there was no hesitation in Gemma’s response.

“Agatha is one of Australia’s leading artists at the moment, she has exhibited internationally, she’s really well respected, her work is also included in the Cruthers Collection, so she has a relationship to the project.”

Further to this, Gemma explains.

“The really great thing about Agatha’s work is that although it’s often quite intricate and conceptual, she uses really classical, familiar images and art references.”

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Image © Bo Wong

The subject matter is familiar, inviting, and enveloping in that ‘close to heart, close to home’ type of way. The exhibit features plenty of domestic imagery, all nature of chairs, references to native and introduced flora, there’s lots to pick apart including the title, which lends itself to interpretation all on its own.

Gemma acknowledges that not everyone is necessarily comfortable attending an art exhibit for the first time.

“I think people are often intimidated by art, but the thing that I love about it and the thing that it can do for us is offer us a space to think through our feelings and understand what we think about things, and I don’t think there’s any right or wrong response to an exhibition or to art. I think often people get stuck looking for a hidden meaning, like art might be trying to trick them or there might be something that they’re missing but often art is really just about looking at what’s in front of you and giving you the time and the space and the opportunity to look closely at things that you might miss in your busy day-to-day life.”

Trying To Find Comfort In An Uncomfortable Chair is at PICA till 6 October.

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