An image produced by Mel Dare for A Portrait of Taiwan in Perth project in which 20 Taiwanese and 20 Perth artists – all women – collaborate in a cultural exchange. Dare was one of 20 artists invited to participate in this project curated by Ashley Yihsin Chang in affiliation with Turner Galleries. Each Taiwanese participant was paired with a local artist. They had an initial discussion about a significant cultural object of the Taiwanese participant then the artist produced a photographic portrait of the subject with their object. Both participants also wrote 250 words on the exchange. In 2018 the artists will produce works for an exhibition about this experience at Midland Junction Art Centre.
Dare responding to her partner’s cultural object (the colour red) and their exchange:
While listening to Shirley discuss her childhood relationship with red I reflected on my own: scraped knees from climbing trees; bruises from playing football with my brother; a ewe hanging in the shearing shed, blood pouring from the slit in her throat; redback spiders in the outside dunny; pink – washed out red – engendering a feeling of weakness.
As Shirley and I shared our stories we both revealed strong thick red threads running like veins through our lives. The more we discussed our seemingly vast differences the more the other’s stories felt familiar, echoing our own.
When we share our stories with others patterns are revealed and selected areas embellished. Some threads unravel or are unpicked; whole sections are sewn over or started again. When we share our stories with others we are weaving, adding to one another and becoming part of each other’s` larger tapestry. When our weaving first begins we stitch loose threads borrowed from family and culture. Sewn crudely with coarse threads. As we grow it becomes finer and more delicate or entangled. These are the maps by which we navigate our lives. The nets which stop us falling but may also become traps. The filters we look through. The blankets we wrap around us for comfort and warmth.