Both ends of the splinter

The Lobby, April 2019

Sam Bloor and Kate Hulett

The track behind my childhood house was where we filled the time when nothing was happening. It was a messy knot of paths, a seaman’s shame, but we knew every twist intimately. The ground was sand, white and white hot, and the mosquitos stalked the turns. We were wild and nameless back there. No polite introductions, just a neighbourhood worth of barefoot bravado, far enough from the oldies that we were finally in charge. It felt like there were hundreds of us, swirling back and forth beneath the melaleucas, staking our claim and damn proud of ourselves.

My sister, born a decade earlier, had missed out. In the 70s it was only scrub and her loss felt like a secret whisper in my ear that I was onto, and somehow responsible for, something really good. The pace of its transformation, from nothing to nerve centre, was hard to garner, but I loved visualising its creation. Not for a minute did I fathom it was adult made, their stern seriousness couldn’t have made something so loose and resplendent. It was the masterwork of a thousand tiny feet, little by little, an unbridled landslide.

The track had no beginning, not one I ever saw. No one spoke of where they jumped on or off, it was just a constant whirling current, seemingly ancient and inexhaustible. It did peter off into an anti-climactic patch of grass at the bottom of the hill, but the end point wasn’t what we were chasing. If we caught a glimpse of it we panicked and turned back. We knew the magic was on that track. 

When I think of that place, I’m reminded of the power of outlook. We saw only adventures behind us and miracles around the next corner. 

Kate and Sam, as artists and as adults, both look with a child’s gaze. I’ve got no doubt it puts a special burn on their sunsets, and I know it focuses their eyes on the fine grain detail. They are alert, deliberately waiting, so that when that thing pops out, they have the prowess to pick it up. 

The works in this show are pulling focus onto the everyday divisions, inequalities, absurdities and miracles. And not with blind positivity, but with praise for the duality – of high class and low lifes, advertising and art, garbage and the good stuff, and those two ends of the splinter, one the agitator and one the release. They are asking us, as we trudge, as art appreciators or just as humans, to drop preconceptions of past paths and ideas of future ones, and try to move freely through new geography. They work hard to dismantle the notions that keep many out of the galleries - mainly intimidation and warm chardonnay - and are flag bearers for the ingénue too nervous to ask questions, or back their own opinions.

Paths are fragile. I recently visited my sacred site. It was overgrown and in desperate need of another landslide, and I hate to think of that fiery procession of kids losing momentum, and heading home to find a new distraction. Paths NEED walking - without common care and common practice they disappear.

So may we all keep a little wide eyed, wildness about us. Ankles covered in mosquito bites and hands full of splinters. Seek out art that’s ‘not your thing.’ Even better, buy it. Talk to the artists, tonight and every night. They want to know what you think. Keep looking and challenging and shifting our gaze and turning on our heels when we glimpse the grassy patch. No one needs all the answers, we need all the questions.

Essay written by Gabrielle Scott, 2019

[The Billboard Project 003 by Sam Bloor]

 Exhibition documentation by Tim Palman