Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Pink Trotter - Highly Commended

Last Friday night was the opening of the 2014 Sculptors Queensland Annual Exhibition and Shillam Prize. Things went off pretty smoothly with few dramas and a really good crowd. As the Exhibition Coordinator I'd love to say it was all due to my hard work but it was a team effort. Mostly I made lists and spreadsheets, wrote lots of long emails and politely reminded people of what they were supposed to be doing and when. That and a little heavy lifting.

The Judge, Dr Campbell Gray, Director of the University of Queensland Art Museum liked my Pink Trotter and gave me a highly commended award. It's worth mentioning it was an unbiased judgement, Campbell was not aware of the artists name or any other details regarding the works except the titles. And the title was the one thing he didn't like about the work. He felt that it was obvious from the bright pink finish on a realistically carved, disembodied pigs trotter that the work had "something going on". But according to the title, it's nothing more than a Pink Trotter. A more thoughtful title, he recommended, would add a another layer of meaning and depth to the piece, opening it up to greater interpretation. Truthfully, I'd thought that's exactly what I had been doing by giving it an innocuous, obvious even ironic title. A more descriptive or leading title, I feared, would too narrowly define a meaning and therefore limit the viewer from drawing their own conclusions. In much the same way Jeff Koons titles his pieces like, Puppy, Split Rocker and Balloon Dog.

Upon reflection though, I see a lot of merit in Campbell's comments. With a little extra effort it is possible for me to lead the viewer into a thought path that expands on my intentions and associations. And it doesn't have to be too obvious, sentimental or naive. I also think there have been times I've been a little lazy and named things poorly simply because I couldn't be bothered to think of a better one. But I've spent some time renaming a few other pieces and it was kind of fun like ELEPHANTS FOOT UMBRELLA STAND and HAND and THEY GO FOR THE PRETTY COLOURS and FORWARD ESTIMATES and FUNGIBLE ASSETS.


  1. Congrats on the high commendation. Interesting thoughts around the naming. I wonder how he feels about all the artists who rock the 'untitled' angle?

  2. Funny you should ask. He actually reckoned "Untitled" would have been better. Sounds to me like there's some "Rules" being expressed here and we all know about art and rules.