Bringing Daphne Back: Dr Catherine Bell

Guest Post
Artist and academic Dr Catherine Bell reflects on her research project on Daphne Mayo using the Fryer Library collection. 

My blog post provides a reflexive view on the role of the artist in the archive and how museum collections can inspire and influence artists in diverse and innovative ways.  As the 2015 recipient of the Council of Australian University Library (CAUL) and Australian Society of Authors (ASA) Fellowship, my approach to Brisbane sculptor Daphne Mayo’s archive at the Fryer Library, University of Queensland, was to produce a new body of artwork that provided a unique perspective on her artistic legacy. 

Catherine Bell's collage, part of the series 'Bringing Daphne Back'
Catherine Bell, Bringing Daphne Back (2016) Dimensions: 29.7 x 42 cm. Medium: Digital collage. Photographs of Daphne Mayo working on the Tympanum, Brisbane City Hall were scanned from glass negatives in the Daphne Mayo Collection UQFL 119, Box 8, Folder 3, Fryer Library, The University of Queensland Library. Found images of the Brisbane Town Hall have been sourced from the Internet. Artwork reproductions are courtesy of the artist and Sutton Gallery, Melbourne.

The series of six collages, entitled “Bringing Daphne Back” (2016) are one example of how I examine Mayo’s prolific career through a feminist lens.  I was interested in discovering and presenting the hidden herstory, exposing the enigmatic, private woman behind her very public sculptural commissions.  Superimposing a monumental portrait of Daphne Mayo working on the tympanum frieze, over different found images of the Brisbane Town Hall is a playful way to use scale to highlight the enormity of Daphne artistic contribution to Brisbane’s cultural standing; while emphasising the fact that there is no monument or statue of her in Brisbane that formally acknowledges her legacy. 

Catherine Bell's collage, part of the series 'Bringing Daphne Back'
Catherine Bell, Bringing Daphne Back (2016) Dimensions: 29.7 x 42 cm. Medium: Digital collage. Photographs of Daphne Mayo working on the Tympanum, Brisbane City Hall were scanned from glass negatives in the Daphne Mayo Collection UQFL 119, Box 8, Folder 3, Fryer Library, The University of Queensland Library. Found images of the Brisbane Town Hall have been sourced from the Internet. Artwork reproductions are courtesy of the artist and Sutton Gallery, Melbourne.

The collages also make the covert process of her creating the tympanum on a veiled scaffold a public spectacle, reinforcing the challenging working conditions Daphne endured.  What also struck me when I was researching the archive was how Daphne amassed newspaper articles and images as support material for commissions. I imagined how easy it is for us to google search an image these days if we need a visual reference for an artwork.  Daphne stockpiled her images, so you can start to see a pattern emerging that constructs a portrait of her as an activist, nature lover, and feminist. That is why I have repurposed found images of the Museum of Brisbane throughout history as a backdrop to represent the enduring presence of Daphne’s sculptural commissions and the artistic accomplishments of women artists.

Catherine Bell's collage, part of the series 'Bringing Daphne Back'
Catherine Bell, Bringing Daphne Back (2016) Dimensions: 29.7 x 42 cm. Medium: Digital collage. Photographs of Daphne Mayo working on the Tympanum, Brisbane City Hall were scanned from glass negatives in the Daphne Mayo Collection UQFL 119, Box 8, Folder 3, Fryer Library, The University of Queensland Library. Found images of the Brisbane Town Hall have been sourced from the Internet. Artwork reproductions are courtesy of the artist and Sutton Gallery, Melbourne.

 

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Last updated:
25 May 2017