Listening to Clara Ethel & Ada

Listening to Clara, Ethel and Ada occupied a row of unused shops in the heart of Erskineville, the inner suburb of Sydney where I live. It grew out of my involvement with local activists fighting to stop the closure of the local post office and incorporated my research into local history. It was also an exploration of the complex materiality of gypsum plaster.

On the carpeted floor of the first shop – once a ballet school – I mapped the past movements of the local dance classes in stitched orange and red wool, acrylic thread and lumps of gypsum. The shop window displayed an excerpt from a letter to the Council complaining about the splinters in the floor. Next door I constructed a large three-dimensional weaving in red and orange wool, modelled on the molecular structure of gypsum plaster. In the window of the third shop were photos that documented the rolling protests against the closure of the Post Office opposite. In this space I ran a workshop with local residents where we made scones, connected with one another and listened to local stories.

Listening to Clara, Ethel and Ada was exhibited in Australian Perspecta: Between Art and Nature in 1997. The work was an off-site project in conjunction with Performance Space, Sydney.