The Guildhouse Collections Project: Fluttertongue by Chelsea Farquhar

This Collections Project connects visual artists, musicians and composers with public cultural spaces to result in the creation and presentation of new digital works of art.

2022 Guildhouse Collections Project recipient Chelsea Farquhar’s interests lie in responding to the performative rituals and historic importance of the ASO and their archive. Utilising sculpture, performance and video to highlight moments of exchange and collaboration, Farquhar is researching the ASO as a living collection, including sheet music, performance brochures and posters, instruments, architecture and the players themselves

Farquhar graduated with first class honours from the Victorian College of the Arts in 2020 where she received the West Space Window Exhibition award to exhibit in 2021. In 2017 Farquhar graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Adelaide Central School of Art and in 2018 received a Carclew Fellowship. In 2022 Chelsea will be undertaking a residency at Watch This Space gallery in Alice Springs NT.

Artist Statement 

I’m often drawn to the mystical and the historic. The Adelaide symphony orchestra combines tradition and storytelling, allowing audiences to move through and outside of time and into other worlds. Fluttertongue is made up of a series of tableaux; different worlds to pass through. This piece has been inspired by moments on and off stage that are playful, ritualistic, and sometimes even flamboyant. The joyfulness of excess and pomp, going to see the ASO, dressing up, coattails, wearing something special, to see and hear something special.

I’ve spent hours hand sewing corsets, bejewelling evening gloves, hand weaving whips, making curtains, sewing wearable pieces for horses and hand painting props. Dressing up the body is an integral piece of the ritual. I see parallels between the making of costumes and working with textiles (the discipline of stitched and rhythmic threads, the imperfections that only the wearer or performer would ever notice) and the rehearsal that leads to the show. There is preparation to command attention, whether it is to be seen or heard, sound or colour. Combining historic methods and designs with contemporary fabrics aid in the grandeur of the scene and abstraction of time. These are playful renditions, or scores in fabric.

To flutter your tongue while playing a wind instrument is to distort the sound. I love this distortion, to break the ritual. This video piece attempts to present how I see the ASO; bizarre, playful and passionate.

Responding to the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra has given me the opportunity to engage with the players and observe their rituals on and off stage. I’m drawn to the obscure but persistent relationship we have to excess and pomp. I’m excited by the flamboyancy of ritual and the breaking of those rituals. Inspired by collaboration and playfulness I’ve been attempting to translate the grandness of the ASO through sculpture, costume and video. I’ve been Inspired by the ASO’s dedication to thoughtfully carry the past through into the present. While looking back at traditions and rituals of the stage I’ve been creating contemporary interpretations of historic dress to create abstract scenes that exist across or out of time completely.  Being selected for this opportunity has informed how I see my practice and shifted the direction I’d like to take my work into the future. Chelsea Farquhar

Image credit: Photographer Lana Adams
Banner image: Chelsea Farquhar, 2021, Fluttertongue, 2022, video still.

The Guildhouse Collections Project with Adelaide Symphony Orchestra presented in partnership with Adelaide Festival Centre.