Loose ends – ANU Nets Project

Thematically I think about a net as a series of connections. In death, (with which I am preoccupied at present) the material connection with the deceased is cut. The link with the person who has died feels tenuous at best. Loose ends abound.

Rachel Bickovsky

Hair netted

Paula HIlyard's word at the last meeting

I forgot to add to my previous post, that when I went to the local butcher to buy the skin, I asked for it in metres, and after I had been in for the third time, I was being asked to pay more for the same amount and he was considerably grumpy and unwilling.   So I left it for a few months, and then when I went back – I asked him for it by weight, and with a bright cheery voice he said, “no problems – as much as you like”.    So I guess the  moral to this story is, do not ask a non sewing male for sausage skin in metres!


Skin has fascinated me for a long time – a two dimensional multipurpose mesh surfaced organ encapsulating an ample and capacious body.    It can be slack or tight depending on age and weight.   It can be oily or dry, and responds to pain and pleasure.  It is a marvellous material with a network of lines especially on skin dried and damaged by the elements or in my particular case, worn with ageing.   It hides in its multiple layers nerves, glands and capillaries under its inert exterior.

My work is to show a network of lines  – a network of roads travelled  – telling the story of the life lived – through a body that shows the wear and tear of what has been.

Here are photos I have taken of what I have done so far – manipulating sausage    skin.

family networks

My ‘netwurking’ keeps coming back to family networks and paper and text and black and white. What to do with all the pieces of paper I’ve inherited and all the secrets and stories the text  hints at so loudly. The dramas of births and deaths and marriages suggested – the formal certificates revealing lots and hiding lots more. I’m using paper to explore and explain what I know about some of the women I’ve ‘caught’ in these family nets. So far it’s crepe paper and it’s knitting…………..

Network in progress

Hair Net

My pieces are mostly focused on ageing.  I have always been fit and active and the ageing process has been rather depressing, hence the Hair Net made using my own hair.  This piece isn’t finished and I hope I will have collected enough of my hair before the deadline arrives.  I can’t wait to be finished so I can have my hair cut short again.

Neural Networks

This represents the brain and its neural pathways.  The brain is a fantastic organism which computes differently from our digital computers.  It is a highly complex, amazingly fast, nonlinear information processing system which performs functions such as pattern recognition, perception and motor control simultaneously.  What can we do to prevent it ageing and how can we help it when it is damaged?

Shadow Nets and Ageing

Paul Newman, by Dennis Hopper

Nets are everywhere.  Even in my garden!  These ones are to keep things out.

I have been exploring ageing and the effects ageing can have on the brain. Neural networks are effected by strokes but brain plasticity means that sometimes other areas of the brain can take over functions that have been damaged.

However I am also interested in the intrinsic beauty of nets and the shadows they cast.  I have made a series of square nets in natural and black linen. Some of these are single, some layered.  Then last week an image by Dennis Hopper of Paul Newman taken in 1964 appeared in the Canberra Times.  It shows the shadow of  a wire fence cast over Paul Newman.

Posted in ageing. 2 Comments »