Pat BRASSINGTON
Rosa 2014

The NGV has recently acquired four photographs by the Tasmanian-based artist Pat Brassington: Quiescent, Blush, Rosa and Major Tom, all from 2014. Characteristic of much of Brassington’s recent practice, the photographs are highly experimental and present an intriguing cast of characters created from a mix of materials that have either originated with the artist or have been appropriated. The figures are abstracted to a point of non-recognition, their bodies truncated and distorted, set within sombre settings that are printed out on fibrous paper to create rich and textured backdrops. I emailed Pat to ask about the ideas and processes involved in making these works.

(MF): Do your images begin with a pre-determined concept, or does it evolve over time?

 

(PB): My practice involves a good deal of musings about stuff and mental or imaginative image concepts that are mostly little rehearsals for images that may or may not see the light of day.

For me ‘making’ is a heuristic process of discovery and dead ends. In other words my process could be described as organic or fluid. When embarking on a new body of work I will have a loose agenda in mind to begin with and proceed to make what I would call preliminary sketches or triggers. A finished work may evolve quite quickly but more often than not it’s a slow process involving a lot of trial and error and even frustration at times.

(MF): Do you start with photographic images, or drawings, or something else?

(PB): My processes and techniques vary but I often recycle a lot of material from my own photographic archive.

I often refer back too images I have collected with the aid of the camera in one way or another. Source material can include material from my old 35m black and white negative archive and images I capture via a digital camera. Sometimes as a work develops, a specific requirement may arise so I will hunt around for supplementary material to either scan or photograph.

I’m essentially a collagist after all! And I see my images as an amalgam between photographic and printmaking techniques.

Clarification about the shape of new work emerges during the making process. It’s important to entertain possibilities and not shut them off unexplored: it can be like being in an extended state of uncertainty. But decisions are made.

(MF): Are the images manipulated digitally, physically, or in the darkroom?

 

(PB): I either load or scan images into the computer and using some commercial software tools I play with them. When something potentially interesting arises I make small hard-copy prints. Sometimes I worry away for weeks and weeks on an image only to discard it in the end. Once I feel that I have something worthwhile I do a lot of fine tuning before proofing to actual size. I make every effort to get the best possible print I can from the particular image.

It’s a rare thing to see me in a ‘darkroom’ these days but when I was solely engaged with the analogue process during the 80’s and early 90’s I would often attempt to manipulate images either via the enlarger or the chemical process directly or by manipulating a photographic print (overdrawing, colouring, cutting and pasting for example) and then re-photographing.

(MF): Do the subjects have autobiographical associations?

(PB): I’m assuming that you are asking whether my work is autobiographical! And I would say, in the main no, or rarely overtly or intentionally so. But I would certainly attribute or acknowledge that my life experience has influenced how I respond to, or interpret, ‘being in the world’.

Image 1
Rosa 2014
pigment inkjet print
80.0 x 62.0 cm (image)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased NGV Foundation, 2014
© Pat Brassington, courtesy Stills Gallery, Sydney and Arc One Gallery, Melbourne
Image 2
Quiescent 2014
pigment inkjet print
80.0 x 72.0 cm (image)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased NGV Foundation, 2014
© Pat Brassington, courtesy Stills Gallery, Sydney and Arc One Gallery, Melbourne