A postcard from Europe

I am sitting to write this travel dispatch on the very day of hearing the news of yet another fatal and injurious ‘terrorist’ event in London, on the Westminster Bridge.  More people have been killed or badly hurt going about their day and online media and social media are responding with a now familiar mixture of divisive anger and supportive solidarity. I read and listen to the news alone in my temporary studio having just passed through London to arrive at the Phasmid Studio in Marzahn Berlin. I am here for three months of work and research by way of the VCA, University of Melbourne and the Fiona Myer International Studio Residency Award and increasingly I recognize deep feelings of gratitude for my privilege and sheer good luck for being safe and fortunate when so many in this world are not.

To get to Berlin I travelled via the cities of Dublin, London and Paris in a three-week tour of art galleries, project spaces, museums, libraries, bookstores, train-stations, bridges, squares, plazas and airports. Often adrift amongst heaving waves of people I am now, by contrast, in the ebb of solitude within a large empty space in a semi-industrial area of old East Berlin.  When away from my small studio and quiet Melbourne suburb I am amazed by the number of other people who are out in the world experiencing art, culture and history. The magnitude of human participation in these large cultural centres is almost overwhelming.  It would seem that on any given day, hundreds of thousands of people desire to see the many examples on offer of human creativity, greatness, folly and everything that falls in-between. It is not surprising to me that the art which has felt the most interesting and alive are those works which reveal themselves by the force of their own interior passions rather than those which speak by ideological, political or aesthetic decree.  The loud voices of heavyweight artists, thinkers and social groups are plentiful but there is often a lack of authentically felt connection when you meet the work face to face.

One of the big showcase exhibitions, however, at London’s Tate Modern, was alive and affective with emotional and psychological impact. Wolfgang Tillman’s 2017 offering of photographic endeavors is truly an extraordinary feat.  The exhibition consists of a number of large rooms each containing vast expanses of monstrously immersive prints on the wall alongside multiple photo-filled vitrines and projected videos. Each installation operates as a dedicated exercise by the artist in looking and questioning the world with his camera and he has constructed an acreage of obsessive visual dialoguing for the viewer which is nothing short of extraordinary.

I also found quieter, smaller but equally passionate and obsessive exhibitions which when encountered opened my heart and mind with genuine delight and amazement.  One example of this was my inadvertent discovery of Dublin’s Chester Beatty Library—an intimate collection of books, manuscripts, prints, talismans and paintings.  Throughout this enchanting library of works I found various colourful room installations which have been carefully curated across eras and religions and each dedicated to centuries-old creative representations of spiritual devotion. I was so taken with these intriguingly intimate rooms lit by their brilliant colours and mystical fascination that I could have happily stayed there indefinitely.

As someone who works primarily alone, there is something deeply connective in sharing in the art and culture of any great city of the world. Sadly, today my memories of jostling amongst enthusiastic crowds are pierced by yet another reminder of our unending capacity for strategic and deliberate cruelty. Maybe it is because we haven’t changed and still play out the same old games on the global stage that today the dynamic ebb and flow between creating alone and sharing together feels so very important? Despite what is being devised to offend, alarm and anger, our efforts to go out into the world and acknowledge each other’s presence, creativity and value becomes in turn a greater blessing to ourselves.  By listening more to the questions someone else is asking of themselves rather than to the loud rattling of our own voice we may yet find something new to reflect on in the ever recycling patterns on show in art and life.


Kellie Well's visit to Wolfgang Tillmans: 2017, Tate Modern, London.

Kellie Wells

chester bible.jpg

An Ethiopian bible in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin. 

Kellie Wells


A crowd outside the Checkpoint Charlie Museum in Berlin.

Kellie Wells

Kellie Wells is a visual artist based out of Melbourne who has shown in public galleries, ARIs, festivals and project spaces both in Australia and overseas. Some highlights include presentation of her works I am That I am and Big I Little i in the Melbourne Festival exhibition Crossing Paths With Vivian Meier at CCP 2015, Knight Series 2 at Westspace 2012 and Traveling Through Alpha Space a collaborative art research project at George Paton Gallery 2016. Kellie's research interests centre on self-representation in art and contemporary devotional practices and rituals and is she currently an art studio resident at Phasmid Studio GbR Berlin after being awarded the Fiona Myer International Studio Residency Award for her MFA research exhibition Sacred Sight at the VCA, University of Melbourne 2016. 



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