Born in Sydney, Blair Waterfield was invited to study at the National Art School in a 2001 scholarship initiative. It was here that he realized his passion for the printmaking medium. In 2006, he moved to Tasmania to study at the University of Tasmania’s School of Art and has since established himself as one of Tasmania’s emerging artists. Blair completed his Batchelor of Fine Art in 2008 and Masters in Printmaking 2010 at The Tasmanian School of Creative Arts and has had many solo and group exhibitions.
Behind the Shadows
My practice explores the fragmented stories of the past by re-imagining existing black and white photography. Through my work I create my own history: a new story with an alternate possibility, to help clarify concepts of identity.
I am a collector at heart. With many of the artifacts I collect, I can only speculate as to the origin, importance and impact on their previous possessor. This speculation informs my art practice and nurtures my love of old photographs and postcards. All photographs are precious to me. They are a moment in time. Capturing in a snapshot, the intensity of the foreground spectacle which is usually the focus, and the subtleties of happenings in the background. The allure of a glance, a slight smile to the lip, a simple gesture. They are beautiful, sad, suggestive and emotive.
By re-inventing this existing imagery, I re-write its associated history. The final images are both constructed yet true. I combine small parts of photographs, cropping, colouring and sometimes using multiple photographs to create an image. The further introduction of colour invites a contemporary framework for interpretation. The colours in the work are muted and faded, as too are the stories and context of the original image.
In summary the work endeavors to understand the present by looking to the past, perpetuating more questions than answers. There is a tension between the masculine and the feminine, playful and serious, teetering on the edge of love and loss. Ultimately the work is engaged in a moment, a snapshot of the present where there is a harmonious culmination of an invented past, our own memories and a personal experience. It is in this moment that the imagery carries the intent to invoke an emotive and truly introspective response.
‘Objective Rationale’ is a series of colour etchings that represent the trace of individual lives. The objects depicted in the series come from family heirlooms that have been passed down through generations; each generation adding to the history and life of the object. The theme of this body of work is centralised around existing family portraiture and is represented through the form of an object once belonging to an individual. The textured and layered grounds of the prints allude to an excavation into history; a type of archaeological investigation tracing individual lives. In some cases the entire object has been removed, whereas in others, the ‘object’ has camouflaged itself into the layered ground of the print, generating a fossilised impression within the two dimensional plane.
The objects used in this series include, a timber tobacco container and a silver biscuit barrel inscribed with the Hardingham Coat of Arms. ‘Objective Rationale’ is based on a growing interest into my ancestral history in an attempt to better understand the present by looking to the past. – Blair Waterfield