Be Spoken To
CF + Melinda Smith, PhD Project 2014-17
Be Spoken To, 2014.
Letterpress and embossing powder, Perspex (originally installed on
the faces of vintage MoAD signposts). Dimensions variable.
Melinda worked with Caren on an iterative poetry collaboration from 2014 to 2017, based around the history of Australia’s first Parliament House in Canberra. This was the first project of the series, initiated by an exhibition call-out by Craft ACT and the Museum of Australian Democracy, asking artists to respond to some of the MoAD permanent displays of historic furniture and other objects. We chose the Sign Room, which had a collection of hand-lettered signs outlining rules, regulations and directions for negotiating the building and its activities.
Melinda worked with the text from the signs, using a cut-and-paste method to create new poetic messages. Caren printed these words to make new signs, custom-fitted on top of a number of archived MoAD signs. Our signs were displayed opposite the official ones, in a call and response situation, evoking petitioners, or demonstrators.
The sign texts were on display in Old Parliament House for a year, from December 2014 to Dec 2015. The words were recycled when we composed the artist book 1962: Be Spoken To.
Some of the images on the right were in situ at Old Parliament House, some are from other exhibitions.
Melinda Smith won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for her fourth book of poems, Drag down to unlock or place an emergency call. Her work has appeared widely in Australia and overseas. She was Poetry Editor of the Canberra Times from 2015 to mid-2017. Her latest collection, Goodbye Cruel, was published by Pitt St Poetry in 2017.