space

Space, the final frontier. Melissa is still exploring it and will no doubt continue til she’s well old.

My impromptu workbench, set up on the kitchen bench of an apartment in Dexter St, Seattle, using my photography lamps as task lighting. Melissa Cameron 2012.

As I mentioned previously, we have just moved again, this time into a two story family home with a basement. In the short time we have been here, the marked increase in space has had a profound effect on my mood and my thinking. Spatial dynamics, compositions and the mechanics of space creation are chief interests of my artistic practice, so I understand my susceptibility, or perhaps vulnerability, to the influence of spatial relations in my practice.  Having left the confines of a spatially dictated career – interior architecture – to begin another that allowed me to interrogate my awareness of space in a less explicit and practically focused way, I had begun to forget the effect that these recent changes would affect on my person.

I have cited already that my spatial awareness of Melbourne, a very different city to that of my childhood and early career, Perth, subtly infiltrated my thinking and resulted in very different jewellery forms from those I had been making in my home-town. The architecture that surrounds me, the space that it demarcates and encloses, is very influential on my thinking. And now I realise, on my being.

I find my awareness of my new situation being given form in spatial terms. Before moving into a house, but after coming to Seattle, my personal space contracted, shifting my awareness firmly onto the politics of space. I was keenly aware that in this great land mass, I, and my housemates, were set adrift. We had very little buffer zone, literal and figural. As political, social and monetary objects, our rights, and the personal space to which we had each become accustomed ‘back home’, had been eroded. Without title, our ‘land’ was a shared and precarious hold on less than 900 square feet of space. We were practically non-entities. We were without claim like any travellers, yet we were/are permanent residents. We were surrounded. My rights were and remain small and tenuous, my responsibilities to an unforgiving state a cause for fear, and a burden.

Being given access to a huge space, and myself personally to my own office and enormous studio, has once again altered my sense of self, and with that altered my sense of entitlement. Without space, I was a small little something. A commentator, maybe, but not a participant in the society in which we had chosen to live. With space comes rights, and responsibilities. With it I am back to being able to set my own agenda. I am also back to being myself, an artist. I feel empowered, that my opinion will once again matter, that my work is worthy of the effort.

The spaces I have, or have been allocated, are largely empty. But they speak of possibility. They are full of promise. Right now I feel keenly aware that my spatial turmoil was a fleeting circumstance. I feel for those for whom it is more permanent.