As Melbourne re-enters a second phase of lockdown, we touch base with Queensland-based printmaker Glenda Orr who reflects upon her own time in isolation as well as sharing some of her current favourites.
Glenda’s art primarily focuses on critically engaging with issues and concepts of biological diversity, human ecology and natural ecosystems, particularly forests and woodlands. But during this uncertain time of lockdown she has felt compelled to shift her focus onto something more intimate, more about connection and community, as we increasingly face long periods of isolation.
The inspiration for this series was sparked on her daily morning walk through the park with her dog, Pluto. On her way to get a takeaway coffee from her local cafe, Glenda noticed a growing number of people engaging with the park in the guise of ‘exercise’ although she felt that many people were rather finding solace in a small snippet of nature – much like herself.
One day on her way back home she saw a beautiful composition – a Muslim girl sitting cross-legged, on her phone, coffee by her side facing a small tree in the middle of the park. This scene epitomised Glenda’s thoughts about how nature – even as small, local fragments – are an important source of solace during these difficult times. From this encounter, Glenda subsequently began a new series of etchings titled, ‘Parked Life’ inspired by her engagements with locals in the park. She found people were happy to be photographed and share their names and a quick chat.
During lockdown Glenda has also been working on her ‘Fake Flowers’ series, that refer to insidious habitat destruction through biodiversity ‘offset’ schemes. One particular work in this series is a hand-coloured etching titled, Fake flowers I, which responds to the green-washing of environmental management. Glenda uses her characteristic axe iconography to create petals which are arranged in a floral pattern, which is repeated to create a field of fake flowers. This edition is composed so that the multiple prints from the whole edition could be displayed together to create an even larger field of flowers.
Favourite book to read: I have been reading “The Other Bennett Sister’ by Janice Hadlow – imagines the Pride and Prejudice story and beyond from the character, Mary’s, point of view. It is apt given the rather confined, slower life we are all experiencing right now and Hadlow emulates Austen’s wit very well.
Favourite music to listen to: I have been listening to Jordie Lane & the Sleepers, Glassellland, beautiful voice – to me an Australian version of Americana sound. Also Gaby Moreno, Illusion, another beautiful voice, nostalgic of 50’s 60’s music with a Spanish twist. I discovered her last year at Port Fairy Folk Festival which I sadly missed this year. Tied third choice is Nina Simone – long term favourite soul.
Favourite artist: I have always been in awe of Jörg Schmeissers’ iceberg series, I own a small subtle print from this and still not sure how he made it but love trying to figure it out – layers of soft ground I think? I also marvel regularly at Ray Arnold’s large epic print of a cave in France I have on my lounge room wall – its so detailed and all line drawing!
Favourite thing to watch on TV: Highlight has been watching the new series remake of ‘High Fidelity’ streaming on ABC.