Dark Dark Forest: Janet Clouston

Janet Clouston

Artist Statement

Born and educated in Aotearoa/NZ, I came to Sydney as the first stage of a trip planned through the outer reaches of China and Mongolia. I was, however, distracted/attracted by the exciting fringe theatre scene in the inner-city squats where I made my home. Performing in an absurdist theatre band, Sax and Violins, I played saxophone, made puppets and costumes, danced and sang my way to obscurity.

I worked as a community artist making mosaic murals in Western Sydney – and Wollongong where I settled to raise a family. Finding myself a sole parent, I trained as teacher. Between high school teaching and working as set/props maker for Theatre South, children’s theatre, music videos and Circus, I also partook in puppetry performance for grown-ups. I have always painted and shown work in group shows.

I started painting in earnest when I moved to Melbourne for three years, where I had my first Solo show.

Yet I always have this hankering for creating 3D worlds which was the great joy of theatre. And for the right and versatility to change styles and techniques with every show! So, I move to and fro’.

When my mother died, I inherited her embroidery threads. This spurred me on to honour her memory and use the skills she taught us when we were quite young, by making embroidered sculpture.

When I look back over my career, I see a winding road from my first job as psychiatric nurse through diverse fields of the arts and teaching to this clearing in The Dark, Dark Forest. But always I have followed the same path; questioning Power and Glory/Fame and Fortune. This has been the trail of crumbs I have followed since early days at art school and before, always asking ‘Why?’

Why do we tolerate such absurdities? Surely everyone deserves respect, shelter, sustenance and a liveable life.


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