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THE JEWEL

Claire Robertson

The artist would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land to which this work makes reference, the Big River and North tribes and pay respect to elders past, present and future. Colonial history has edited out and silenced Aboriginal people, and while their stories are not mine to tell, this work is dedicated to revealing the facade of a neat history.

The Jewel is a eulogy for history’s inability to record objectively and completely - through recording history, we erase stories. It explores the complex and ongoing colonial relationships to the Australian landscape and draws parallels between the constructed nature of influential historical narratives and film.


 
Photo of Louise Lovely in 'Jewelled Nights' 1925. Image from the National Film and Sound Archive Australia

Photo of Louise Lovely in 'Jewelled Nights' 1925. Image from the National Film and Sound Archive Australia

Claire Robertson performing as Louise Lovely for 'The Jewel' (in progress) Artist page in Issue 88, 2018 Eyeline Magazine

Claire Robertson performing as Louise Lovely for 'The Jewel' (in progress) Artist page in Issue 88, 2018 Eyeline Magazine

 
 
Photo of Louise Lovely directing on set for 'Jewelled Nights' 1925. Image from the National Film and Sound Archive Australia

Photo of Louise Lovely directing on set for 'Jewelled Nights' 1925. Image from the National Film and Sound Archive Australia

Claire Robertson on set for 'The Jewel'. Like Louise LovelyI will play both filmmaker and performer.

Claire Robertson on set for 'The Jewel'. Like Louise LovelyI will play both filmmaker and performer.

The four channel video work, which is currently in development, will be displayed on four TV screens in portrait orientation. On three of the screens, Robertson performs as the fictional and non-fictional Australian women; Elaine Fleetwood/ Dick, Marie Bjelke Petersen, and her own mother. The fourth screen is black, representing the stories that are not the artists to tell. Each short scene repeats on loop, with each repetition being an analogue copy of the previous. This results in a mechanical process of disintegration. Throughout the day the footage becomes unrecognisable, until all that can be seen is static and artifacting.

The Jewel makes reference to Robertson’s own history, growing up in remote mining towns including Zeehan, Tasmania, the setting for Marie Bjelke Petersen’s 1924 romance novel titled Jewelled Nights. In 1925, Jewelled Nights was made into a silent film by the same name, directed, performed and produced by Australian actor Louise Lovely. The film has been deemed lost and now only exists in the form of outtakes held in NFSA. However, from the film film fragments and notes on the filmmakers copy of the novel, we can decipher that it tells the story of a young woman, Eileen Fleetwood, who escapes from an unhappy marriage, disguises herself as a male prospector called Dick and finds refuge in an isolated mining town. Dick prospects for the rare alloy Osmiridium. Marie Bjelke Petersen based Jewelled Nights around Zeehan and the bluff around Savage River. This is where osmiridium was first discovered. Osmiridium was mostly used to make artillery and pen nibs, both white, male authors in colonial history.


Artist Claire Robertson performing as Louise Lovely with revealed set. In this sketch up Robertson was experimenting with making reference to the masculine act of conquering of the landscape as being seen as heroic. This footage is indicative of costuming and set only.