…home sweet home
Welcome to the website of Prisoners of the Crown, gateway to the studio practice of
Megan Bottari (glassie, writer, free-range curator)
Ginger Bottari (contemporary bling)
So called because the workshop is housed in a former Courthouse/Police Station (in rural New South Wales, Australia) and the art practice of both invariably reflects a renegade interest in rebellion, bushrangers and postcolonial frou-frou.
Partners-in-crime background briefing (for full cv go to the Artist Rap Sheets page):
I cooked professionally for over 20 years before being struck by the proverbial epiphanies at the opening of Dale Chihuly’s 1999 exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia. It’s ridiculously corny, I know, but I came to a dead halt in the middle of the very first room (surrounded by putti) and the music and lights came on, tingling coursed through my veins and I realised in that moment that I’d been cooking the wrong (expletive) stuff! Because glass making, when it comes down to it, is really just cooking on steroids. I was hooked. A week later I applied for a place at the ANU School of Art Glass Workshop (paying a late submission fee!) Everyone thought I was mad, of course, and I daresay they’re right, but ignorance is bliss and against all odds I survived the interview process and managed to land a place (one of four, plus two internationals.) Thereafter followed an intensive 4 year Bachelor of Viz Arts (Hons), and I loved every – well, almost – moment of it.
Before that time I’d also written a couple of novels (one published, another still languishing in the bottom drawer) so critical writing was a natural progression. And I’d always been an arts voyeur (intrepid gallery geek) so my natural curiosity and broad appreciation made professional curatorial practice a comfortable fit. I see all three ‘streams’ – making/writing/curating – as mutually inclusive elements of my practice. All take a (sometimes episodic) turn on the stage as circumstance dictates.
For the last decade post graduation I’ve worked variously in arts administration and curatorial practice with scant opportunity to make work (just a scattering, here and there.) It’s the common lot of women artists: that biological imperative to nurture and prioritise family and life before one’s own needs; the patient waiting, forever waiting, until all extant duties and responsibilities have been concluded (mortgage/education of the bairns/all those multifarious expenses that life entails…) Until at last one reaches the point where one can justify (almost!) the capital outlay and self-absorption concomitant with an arts practice. The selfishness required doesn’t come naturally to women of my generation, ergo we wait – restlessly patient – until the decks become relatively clear.
So life is a three act play, and this (Prisoners of the Crown) is the third and final act. The only question that remains is whether the crescendo will build to a joyful climax. We live in hope! Because I’m not into making domestic goods – there are more than enough glass bowls on the planet – and mannered interior decor (corporate or otherwise) just isn’t my thing. I’m not interested in producing work that is generically global. I believe that one makes who/what one is, and that the hand/heart/eye doesn’t lie. My visual language is stridently, unapologetically Australian, driven always by humour and narrative and often by socio-political imperative. It will never be everybody’s cup of tea. I wouldn’t have it otherwise.
It’s a privilege to be able to set up a studio workshop with Ginger. I can honestly say that I’m in awe of her work – she’s the real McCoy, a genuine one-off. Totes respect. So we have a mutually beneficial, respectful and ethical work environment. Which, last but not least, includes Studio Bitch (who insists on quasi-anonymity!) To all intents and purposes he’s our (poor unpaid) TA, and we simply couldn’t do without him. ♥
After graduating from the Australian National University School of Art (Gold&Silver Workshop) in 2013, I’ve now set up a studio workshop practice in the wilds of the coastal hinterland on the Far South Coast of NSW.
I’m a metalsmith who likes nothing better than a mechanical challenge – there may be no point in reinventing the wheel, but I’m definitely into chucking a doughy! Traditional techniques will always underpin contemporary art&craft practice, but I like to explore reinterpretations that are both idiosyncratic and technically intuitive.
I use a range of metals but, truth be known, I favour titanium. It’s a ‘cutting edge’ material that’s especially suited to my signature technique of choice; saw pierced layering. Titanium is practically synonymous with technological advancement; its unique properties place it front and centre in all manner of evolving industrial applications; marine, aerospace, you name it (even the horseshoe!!) But the most pertinent from my point of view is its medical use – from surgical instruments to implants (the BiVACOR heart being the most recent exciting advance.) Because titanium is biocompatible (non toxic and not rejected by the body) and this, naturally, hugely appeals to me in the sense that it’s the logical/appropriate metal to wear on the skin.
I’m dedicated to the hand-crafted and intend to remain firmly rooted in limited edition work (at the very most.)
I love living in the country – where practice and leisure tend to meld; drawing, designing, reading, gardening, sorting through the sheds, making stuff and building things. Having a joint practice is great. We work independently yet help each other out when necessary, bounce ideas around and give and get critical feedback. We can both swing in and out when we need to – knowing that one of us will still be in place to keep the studio fires burning. It’s pretty damn sweet actually.
images: (top) Exercise Yard (above) Megan Bottari, Crown vs Kelly, cast window glass (below) Courthouse and Police Station, Wyndham NSW, 1898