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Caity Reynolds

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Caity Reynolds is an artist, writer and researcher based on Bundjalung land in Northern New South Wales.

Stage One

Tell us about the evolution of your concept through this creative development process.

My proposed project ambitiously suggested I would have a number of paintings completed, however, as I discussed the themes I was looking at with artists and particularly with Dr Amelia Hine, Critical Human Geographer, I shifted how I approached the project and the context I was working in. It is now less focused on the broader experiences of individuals in my community to my own personal experiences – with my own encounters of housing insecurity, low income and wealth inequality.

I don’t feel as though I am in a position to be prescriptive about the entire region, but I can be speculative, speak to the statistics and research and speak from my own experiences with the goal of humanising a challenging subject. From inception, I wanted to ground the project in an accessible visual language and use humour to achieve this.

As the project developed I created a visual vocabulary utilising motifs from popular culture, synthesising the way I was discussing the themes in my work and how they applied to the Northern Rivers (specifically the Clarence Valley). I critically reflected on what I was attempting to say in my work, and collated a body of research to respond to.

What experts/community members did you connect with during your creative development?

  • Dr Amelia Hine – Critical human geographer and associate fellow at University of Wollongong
  • Dr Carolyn Craig – artist, head of printmaking at the National Art School in Sydney (practice critically examines relationships, social-structures and subjugation through performative actions)
  • Cass Samms – Clarence Valley based regional artist
  • Chloe Waters – Mid-North Coast artist and curator whose practice is concerned with surveillance capitalism, wealth inequality and self-expression
  •  Lesley Apps – Grafton Based Journalist.

“Having the opportunity to speak about my practice has been a real privilege. It has given me a sense of community and connection across the state – allowing me to overcome some of the barriers of distance faced with working alone.”

– Caity Reynolds

Describe where your work has reached in the development process and how you can see it progressing.

I have a number of paintings in progress at the moment and a series of works drafted to be completed when I am able to return to the studio. One particular diptych collages a number of popular culture and current events together. On the right I have painted the iconic scene of Buster Keaton from the silent film ‘Steam Boat Bill, Jr.’, where a house façade falls around him, with the text ‘No country for young men’ superimposed over the top. The text is a play on the Coen Brothers Movie (based on the Cormac McCarthy Novel of the same name), ‘No Country for Old Men’.

The text itself contains the images of the Lismore house that caught fire during the floods earlier in the year, becoming a symbol across social media of the absurdity and extremity of the circumstances.

The left side is a self-portrait of myself dressed as Javier Bardem’s character, Anton Chigurh from ‘No Country for Old Men’, holding a chain (rather than the iconic bolt pistol he uses in the film). The chain is a reference to the Marxist phrase “workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains,” while also symbolising the subjugation of the land and wealth. The background is an image from the Mars rover. During conversations with Dr Amelia Hine, we talked about how when mines close the towns servicing them become ghost towns, and how there are ongoing discussions of asteroid- and space- mining for minerals.

The gratuitous displays of wealth such as meaningless trips to space by billionaires are also a stark contrast to the working class, poor and marginalised groups. I have also written a number of short prose to be completed as text paintings that are based on conversations during the development stage, gleaned from recent news articles about the housing crisis and from real-estate listings.

I have plans to collaborate with Mid-North Coast artist Chloe Waters on a work examining the housing crisis affecting our respective regions. I am enthusiastic about this body of work and see a lot of potential in collaging and re-mixing popular culture imagery.

If you were to tell someone about the impact of Regional Futures and this creative development opportunity on your practice, what would you say to them

Having the opportunity to speak about my practice and making a concerted effort to seek out input from external parties has been a real privilege as I have developed work

Regional Futures  has also given some structure and direction to my current body of work and allowed me to focus on developing a visual language that best reflected the concerns I am interested in. Being motivated by development and not driven by physical outcomes has allowed for growth and speculation in my practice which ultimately has led to better work.

By encouraging discussion with external parties and engaging with group discourse within the project it has allowed me to break down some of the silos of working alone, regionally, where I do not have access to critical feedback or critical conversation very easily.

It has also given me a sense of community and connection across the state – allowing me to overcome some of the barriers of distance faced with working alone.

Overall the impact on my practice has been one of growth and considered reflection which is often difficult to come by when driven by strict outcome-based deadlines.