KATHERINE HATTAM (MY MUM), WRITTEN FOR HER CATALOGUE ABOUT RECENT SHOW INVENTORY
DESIRE AND THE IMPOSSIBLE
In choosing to represent something, you become a part of it, even after the fact of re-presentation. To depict something from life is to positively obsess. Katherine Hattam reflects the want and confusion in life that so many people as artists choose to repress. She includes the minutiae that many exclude to communicate a point and in doing so shows a sense of a life having been lived, marks having been practised repeatedly for years - as well as an exacting compositional schedule.
For those pre-disposed to any mania, anxiety, or just obsessive qualities be they good or bad, Hattam's paintings should appear like a normal projection of thought/thoughts at any given time, just like making a list. As her daughter, I can see her desires so clearly as we operate similarly on many differing levels. I see something and it inspires me and I wish I had been its creator. For instance, I wish i had been Ozzy Osbourne from Black Sabbath in the seventies, who thought it might be a good idea to make scary music, now known more definitively as the genre Metal, but in this day and age it's harder to be an absolute creator. There's always so much that comes before you and what you do have left after being exposed to so much - choice, a myriad of choice.
Hattam has chosen to be a mother and a dedicated artist and nothing has or will come between these two things. Family is an overriding feature to someones' life and has absolutely everything to do with how they operate. Hattam's work can not escape the concept of family as this is a central obsession and always will be. She transfers the everyday into something worth being depicted as if you are a visitor in the Thornbury house. It's her unstoppable need to draw, to put pen to paper or to just do something that has kept her art as her profession since she was a young girl.
As family friend and artist Alex Vivian would say, I love how you're Mum just does stuff. She doesn't talk about it, she just does it and that has inspired me to stop talking and just do...
My friends involved in art comment to me constantly comment, 'saw your mum last night at this exhibition and then she was going to another'. Her dedication to art and all it embodies is exactly what her work is about. Here, her desire turns into the actual. She has captured her obsession and anchored it so that her heavy consideration and thought can rest and then perhaps mean something later. Her ideas formalise and come together out of trial and error, looking and constant experimentation. this combined with her constant hunger to achieve what she wants from art. It proves that there's something to be said for being a generational artist who relates and looks at what those younger than her are doing as there is a irreplaceable freshness to be found in their visual language. Looking and doing as two modes typical to her process has made the paintings sustain their original idea and then progress towards wholeness.
My friend commented on the fact that Rock'n Roll and Metal, are mens' worlds. This is particularly hard to swallow when you are a woman and you want to play metal, like myself. Through perseverance though, this becomes a non-reality for any woman in a musical genre such as metal i.e if you don't go away then people eventually have to take notice. This is not to degrade the position of a female within anything that's predominantly a mans' world, such as art or music at any particular time in history and this as an idea could easily be argued against. As a female though, it's as undeniable as anything displacing is to any kind of minority. Things have changed dramatically within art and literature but career-wise, Hattam, being a young female-artist in her time, faced a similar and deterring mood.
This mood no-longer exists today in contemporary art but it wasn't always as inclusive by any means. Instead of accepting defeat, Hattam looked to something more relevant, such as what young people think and how they see things. In doing so, her work has benefitted in ways indescribable and she has be come a more confident and brilliant artist from pure and sheer determination- null and void of any complacency. This is why her work is so intense and absolutely her own.
In Inventory all of these things within Hattam's life come together to represent desire in life and how to express and attain it. The reoccurring imagery from past paintings, hair and paint brushes, Rodchenko's tea-pot and scissors still remain as reminders of what it is to be her on a day-to-day basis or familiarity. The new inclusions, family pets, Jon Campbells' and Sidney Nolan's paintings and her sisters' Brooklyn windows all push through and take-over to include new desire over old. Thoughts replace thoughts and ideas emerge without the artist consciously knowing how they got there. It's inexplainable as much as it is literal and it's basically just life encapsulated in a visual language representing mood, change and drive.