Paper and multimedia artist Catherine Hewitt recently exhibited her work in Remnant Formations at Gallery 1855 during SALA Festival 2016.
Hewitt’s interest in geology and love of nature walks prompted her latest work, part of her ongoing investigation into how landscape formations are interpreted by tourists, collectors or purveyors.
Both natural and manmade materials are used for clash and harmony in her works, to depict ancient landscape formations. Soft and yielding materials like seagrass and cotton rag are used as a foil against grittier elements like copper, steel and rust.
What or who has made a great impression on you?
I have always had a keen interest in art since I was a child – my father in particular encouraged me to paint- he bought me some paints and took me with him when he was out painting (painting for him was a hobby). Whilst studying graphic design in Tasmania I also took courses in photography and printmaking and enjoyed being able to combine these related mediums. I’ve worked in freelance design and for a number of years had a stall at various markets in Tasmania. I moved to South Australia at the end of 2004 with my two children.
The following year I started working at the Hahndorf Academy where I met Regine Schwarzer with whom I am currently exhibiting. We both did the Masters by Coursework at UniSA at the same time and have exhibited together over the last few years.
Your current exhibition at Gallery 1855, Remnant Formations references mineral and rock formations. Is geology a personal area of interest of yours?
Yes! Actually, I would say that science in general is of interest to me – it often provides the grist for my mill! I like to walk and when I do, sometimes I find things of interest and I like to find out what these things are – where they fit in the ecosystem, what role do they play.
For example the group of handmade paper lanterns in the exhibition titled of a gorgeous nothing are a result of finding a seagrass ball (then hundreds more!) on Goolwa beach.
Likewise the embossing titled Lithos is my interpretation of limestone rock formed from marine particles. Once while walking on North Keppel Island, I found a small disc with a hole in the centre – then I found many more and many years later I found out what they were – Foraminifera.
I do like rocks and the whole geological interconnected process – how mountains are formed, the different types of rocks, the layering, the colours, the erosion that results in beaches.
A few months ago Regine and I both went on a hiking trip to the Flinders Ranges. I had never been there. Walking through the various gorges and seeing all the striping in the rocks was wonderful. In fact, the oxides that I have used in some of the work come from there.
How did you begin this collection? Was there something in particular that triggered its development?
This collection of work is a continuation of previous work. I am really interested in how our landscape is formed and how we define and delineate that landscape. I find maps and mapping very interesting. Previously I had used digital photography to represent this and for this exhibition I wanted to leave the computer and return to something more hands-on.
You say the production processes mimics the natural, in terms of how you have interpreted minerals, rocks and sand in your work. Is this easier to do than it sounds?
It was not something that we set out to do, rather that it was something already happening within our processes.
In nature nothing is wasted, everything is used, transformed, merged; there is erosion, heat, and reforming of materials. As artists we do the same, working with the materials of our choice. Metals are shaped by applied pressure, cutting and heat; stones are cut and shaped and placed with the metal; paper from plant matter is broken down and reformed.
What would you love to work on in the future, or who would you like to collaborate with?
I will continue with what I am doing at the moment knowing that one thing always leads to another, even if there is a break sometimes. I always enjoy working with Regine and love the way our work sits together. Another artist I would like to collaborate is metal sculptor, Astra Parker.