Each year with the commission of the Bella Room, an artist is invited to create an interactive and multi-sensory artwork which considers people specific needs, including physical, intellectual, behavioural and sensory disability. This work is part of MCA’s free and innovative Bella Program, created to inspire and engage people with specific needs to explore contemporary art and develop new skills through art-making experiences.
For the 2016 Bella Commission, Temin is creating The Koala Room. The work has been developed in consultation with MCA Artist Educators and Bella Program participants. Temin will transform the Bella room into a landscape of green fur grass and trees against blue skies. This overall environment will contain numerous elements, inviting visitors with different specific needs to engage with the work in their own way. One aspect of the work will be a giant felt wall with stick-on trees, koalas and Sydney architectural icons encouraging visitors to create their own landscapes and felt assemblages.
Participatory performance is central to The Koala Choir, an integral part of the room. In January 2016, Temin auditioned people across a range of ages, needs and abilities to take part in her Koala Choir. Participants were asked to sing a song with significance to their cultural background, while wearing elements of a koala costume, such as ears, paws or a mask. The product of these auditions, and more to be held throughout 2016, will be exhibited as part of the Bella Commission, further encouraging visitors to adorn themselves with Temin’s koala costumes and perform.
MCA Director, Elizabeth Ann Macgregor OBE, said: ‘We have been working closely with Kathy to develop the work and it’s incredible to see the range of audiences and abilities her practice involves – this artwork is simply not possible without audience contribution. The 2016 Bella Room Commission will prove an empowering and sensory contemporary art experience for over 2,500 participants with specific needs.’
Private and collective memory, identity and loss are themes explored throughout Temin’s practice, informed by her father’s experience of emigration to Australia from Hungary. She often works with fur, creating plush installations that at once evoke the comfort of childhood and create strange and unsettling environments.
Through this work, Temin is seeking to explore the tensions and possibilities for creative action that come from hybrid cultural identities. As a nation with a majority of immigrants and a chequered relationship with its Indigenous peoples, experiences of Australian national identity can be fraught. Through performance and participation, The Koala Room seeks to create a place of acceptance and diversity that both celebrates and underscores the rich complexity associated with any particular idea or experience of being Australian.
The Bella program was established in 1993 through the generosity of MCA patrons, Dr Edward Jackson AM and Mrs Cynthia Jackson AM, and the Jackson family, in memory of their late daughter and sister Belinda. Today the core Bella Program provides enriching and inspiring programs which increase confidence, self-esteem and achievement for children and young people with specific needs aged between 5-18 years, whilst the Bella Plus Program has been developed for adults. Once a month, the Bella Plus Connect Program invites adults, their families and support providers to explore contemporary art in a fun and participant led creative environment.
For more information visit www.mca.com.au/learn/specific-needs/