FACS 20-Credit Prize, Essay Prize

School of Fine Art Sculpture & Environmental Art

Felicity White (She/her)

I am interested in activating space, through playing with texture, tension and light. These explorations are led by the animate, visceral qualities of materials, particularly those which blend organic and man-made elements. I am intrigued by the possibility of seeing multiple worlds afresh through such manipulations. These include perspectives I’ve encountered through my previous studies in Molecular Biology and Neuropsychology. As well, through my engagement with Indigenous ontology, post-human critical theory, eastern philosophy and meditation.

Felicity White website
Insta: @felicitywhite_art
Bundled… Lifted… Held.
Essay: Coming into correspondence: Indigenous ontology, art practice and the posthuman

Bundled… Lifted… Held.

Re-wound, repurposed rope, rust, bladderwrack seaweed, cornflour 2023

Bundled… Lifted… Held. is informed by the materiality of rope, rust, and seaweed biofilm. However, it has also emerged out of a fascination with various topics including the history of Maya people and sisal rope, celtic knots, microscopic sea creatures and protein folding in living matter. Beneath these subjects is an interest in relationality, and the interweaving, changing nature of matter as it moves in and out of living forms.

The words ‘Bundled… Lifted… Held.’ could describe actions forcefully performed to control. But they also have more neutral or even positive associations such as the movement of the ocean – gathering, lifting and suspending matter, or a mother bundling up her child.

The activity in these words juxtaposes the fixedness of the sculptures and hints at their past. Materials are not fixed objects, they constantly exchange energy, matter and meaning. Studying Biology showed me how layers of exchange are fundamental to life processes, forming order out of chaos. I was inspired by the elegance of these systems to create tumbling forms which express dynamic equilibrium.

It is also important to me that emotion and a bodily sense enter the work, to relate human interactions with material stories.

Materials such as sisal rope, a plant native to the Yucatán peninsula of Mexico. Its story is intermingled with the colonial suppression of Maya people, among that of many others. In colonised lands and over perilous sea crossings, people and environments were manipulated and exhausted for the sake of the sisal trade. Meanwhile, rope on these voyages became twisted and worn, gathering marks of use.

Research on Indigenous perspectives has also been an influence. Indigenist researchers Shawn Wilson and Robin Wall Kimmerer describe how interconnectivity is embedded in Indigenous social practices, through ceremonies and gift exchange. They propose that these helps us feel part of the world, closing the gaps between people and their environment. Inspired by this, I have been led by a joy in making and exchanging knowledge of these materials, building a relationship with them and their stories.

Essay: Coming into correspondence: Indigenous ontology, art practice and the posthuman