Artist Profile – Grace Wood and Nina Gilbert

Words – Sheena Colquhoun

Photos – Andy Donohoe

Nina Gilbert and Grace Wood are two young emerging artists, who’ve just had their first show at C3 Gallery at the Abbotsford Convent. I caught up with them for a coffee to discuss the show, and their practise more broadly. The two Melbourne based artists are currently studying photography at the VCA, but consider their practises to encompass an interdisciplinary, multimedia approach. Grace works more directly with video as her medium, stating that she enjoys the properties of video as an ‘endless image’ that can make a space more engaging through its presence. Nina considers her work to be grounded within a sculptural or installation based practise. As young Australian artists, the two discussed a feeling of disillusionment with the tendency for contemporary Australian art to divert to humour as mode of communication.

The show currently on display at C3, titled ‘Transitions’ includes a video by Grace and a series of photographs and sculptural works by Nina, both artists used themselves, and their own bodies as subjects, and I spoke to the two about this decision. Grace believes that the use of ones self as a subject is a way to meaningfully and effectively convey a personal narrative, and that if her ideas are coming from within, then the use of her own body is a logical means of conveying those concepts. Upon being asked whether this was at all confronting or challenging, Nina suggested that it was in fact more confronting for her audience, and onlookers, to see her being self-reflexive in such a way.

The artists outlined in their statement that they were interested in concepts relating the female, feminism, and woman. We had a chat about the manner by which it can be both constrictive and constructive to consider yourself a feminist artist. Grace noted that as part of the feedback she has been receiving from her work, more often than not, people will question her affinity with the feminist tradition. The artists both draw inspiration from the aesthetic, political and conceptual choices of feminist artists from the 1970’s, and find that in continuing and extending this canon, this can still absolutely hold purchase in a contemporary context. The photographs by Nina Gilbert were taken using an analogue camera, and the video by Grace Wood was digital. Both artists outlined their affinity with film photography, specifically as a means by which to assert control over the artistic output. Whilst the video on display was filmed using digital means, Grace felt that the use of projection onto the wall as opposed to a slick television screen could act neatly as a reference to analogue projection. Both Grace Wood and Nina Gilbert represent an exciting aspect of the Melbourne arts scene. The young artists present themselves as focussed, talented and driven, and Melbourne seems to be the perfect place to find an engaged, willing and receptive audience. The two artists have an upcoming show at Brunswick Arts, opening on the 5th of October, and I would highly recommend getting along to see what should be a great show.