Expanded practice

"A beautiful, quietly dignified work."
Natalie Billing
"So many nuanced decisions."
Leigh Schoenheimer
"Your show has opened the gateway to reflection of our own memories."
Andrea Pollock
Exhibition visitor

Object memory poem, 2020, acrylic house paint and acrylic artist’s paint on found carpet rug, found fabric lamp shade and jar lids, glass jars, household objects, ephemera, vintage timber plinths, dimensions variable.  Installed at The Shed, Old Museum Building, Bowen Hills


The year 2020 has been a difficult one for most people and – like many artists – in order to cope and to keep making, I looked inwards.

Located in the field of expanded painting, this installation seeks to blur the boundaries between art and life – between object and artwork – the practice allowing for multiple readings and resonances for the viewer.  In such an affective field, the concept of absence and presence is amplified by the incorporation of common household objects that contain complex systems of signs and act as signifiers for the viewer, triggering memories.  The interplay between object, artwork and site, in this case historic, can lead to a sense of the uncanny as the viewer experiences a work that is both familiar and unfamiliar.

Essentially, I have put my memories into glass jars to produce a curated self-portrait, the jars being metaphors for the way people retain and store memories.  The jars are also a reference to museum collection methods in respect to the Old Museum Building’s former role as Brisbane’s city museum, a place I visited as a child and in which I later underwent orchestral training.  The jars signify objecthood – the material properties of objects, such as shape, colour and texture – which is an integral consideration of my visual art practice, whether I am working in two or three dimensions.  The jars rest on Sculptors Qld’s vintage timber plinths – relics of art world material culture.  In these ways, Object memory poem can be read as both site-specific and deeply personal.

Hope is a form of planning and a survival tactic, 2020, found denim jeans and skirt, thread, polyester wadding, canvas, timber, six panels, each panel 51.2 x 46.2 x 5cm approx., installed dimensions 114.5

x 161.5cm approx.

“Hope is a form of planning.”  Gloria Steinem

I am an egalitarian.  Egalitarians believe in equality and respect for all people regardless of sex, gender, cultural background, age or ability.  We reject hierarchical systems such as bias, prejudice and racism, and advocate for an equal and just society.

My visual art practice is guided by my egalitarian philosophy.  It centres around the themes of identity and the mind and is usually expressed as portraiture or self-portraiture in abstract or representational form.  My primary media are paint and textiles with a focus on repurposing found clothing sourced from op-shops.  I am particularly interested in the sign value of clothing – what it says about the wearer, how these signs are read by others and how clothing can be used to perpetuate hierarchical systems.

As a sensitive person who feels deeply, this year has been hard for me – as it has been for all of us.  This work is a kind of global portrait of humanity and a prayer for global harmony and equality.  Denim fabric was chosen specifically for its democratic quality – all people, of all ages and identities, can wear denim.  Denim is classless and transcends cultural boundaries.  It is universal.

Monument, 2020, gesso and artist’s oil paint on found women's tops and canvas, 137.1x 152.4 x 6.4cm

Monument is part of my rolling expanded painting and expanded portraiture project, The Semiotics of the Dress, which investigates the sign-value of women’s clothing and its relationship to gender bias. 

Eco, Barthes, Wilson and others have proposed that clothing functions as a system of signs, or a kind of language.  By focusing on women’s clothing, I aim to engage viewers in a discussion about what it means to identify or be identified as a woman, non-binary or other person today.


This work is important in the broader context because gender equality for women has not been achieved in Australia - women and girls of all identities continue to face disadvantage and discrimination due to persisting conscious and unconscious biases, evidenced by realities such as the widening gender pay gap. 

Clothing and textiles are universal and transcend cultural boundaries.  The women’s clothing I use stands in for the women themselves.

Mother and daughter (diptych), 2020, acrylic house paint, acrylic artist's paint, found linen-blend dress, paired with found girl's dress, hangers, dimensions variable

This work represents the first painted dress I made in late 2017 and pairs it with an embellished little girl's pink party dress.  The juxtaposition highlights the similarities between women's and girls' clothing styles and poses the question: Can women ever grow up to become the equivalent of their adult male counterparts or must they stay forever infantilised?  This work highlights the power of the sign of the dress and its ambivalent qualities.

Dress Shop Window Wonderland, 2020, acrylic artist’s paint and house paint on found evening dresses, fabric, string lights, armature wire, nylon and polyester thread, dimensions variable approx. 2m x 4m x 1m

Installation view at the Window Gallery, Pine Rivers Art Gallery, Strathpine, February-March 2020

Dress Shop Window Wonderland is an installation work designed specifically for the Pine Rivers Window Gallery space.  The installation draws on the codes and conventions of classic retail dress and department shop window installations and fuses these with the codes and conventions of visual art installation and the ball/school formal/prom.  The resulting installation both draws the viewer in and, with a hint of the uncanny, raises questions about gender performance in contemporary society.

The Wondering Project (Bendigo), 2019, community collaborative art project in which a group of older women were asked to reflect on a key experience in their lives as a woman, in relation to an item of clothing. The women's reflections were exhibited with a support photograph and the item of clothing if available. Carla's reflection was conceived in the form of a poem

Installation view at Dudley House, Bendigo, August 2019. For more images, please see the relevant blog post

Untitled (silver shift dress), 2019, acrylic artist’s paint on found dress, 91 x 63 x 10cm approx.

This work was chosen as finalist in the 44th Rio Tinto Martin Hanson Memorial Art Awards 2019

Strapless purple satin dress (make a statement), 2019, acrylic artist’s paint on found dress, 133.5 x 65 x 12cm approx.

Navy blue formal dress (shibori), 2019, acrylic artist’s paint on found homemade formal dress, 136 x 69 x 21cm approx.

Sapphire blue formal dress (slashes), 2019, acrylic house paint and artist’s paint on found dress, 159 x 64 x 22cm approx.

Two journal entries (I felt) 2019, acrylic artist’s paint and oil stick on silk dress fabric, 79 x 98 x 5cm approx.

My shiny new egalitarianism, 2019, acrylic and enamel house paint and acrylic artist’s paint on found dresses and found bedsheet, 203 x 230 x 8cm approx. (detail)

egalitarian (talking about women in a non-gender-specific post-feminist landscape), 2019, acrylic house paint, acrylic artist’s paint and oil stick on found dresses, 106 x 680 x 11.5cm approx.

Shopping for a dress, 2019, found dresses, cardboard labels, safety pins, hangers, portable clothes rack, full-length mirror, chair, table, journal, pen, dimensions variable (participatory artwork)

Photo Steve Mardon

Proposition, 2019, acrylic house paint, acrylic artist’s paint and graphite on silk dress fabric, 52.5 x 63cm

Undefined, 2019, shop-bought grey top,  56 x 63cm approx.

International Women's Day, 2019, intervention in the Griffith QCA concourse void consisting of found and donated dresses affixed to rope, dimensions variable

Photo Steve Mardon

Vintage black and white dress (Elizabeth meets Jackson), 2019, acrylic house paint on found taffeta and velvet dress, 149 x 73 x 10cm approx.

Ruby red satin dress (217 years), 2018, acrylic house paint on found satin and chiffon dress, 165.5 x 60.5 x 10cm approx.

The Three Graces, 2018, acrylic and oil paint on found dresses and linen, 164.5 x 193.5 x 11.5cm approx.

This work was chosen as finalist in the Redland Art Awards 2018

I am the dress - Genevieve Memory
00:00 / 00:00

I am the dress, 2018, acrylic house paint, acrylic artist's paint, silk wedding dress, sound file, 163 x 110 x 110cm approx.

Dignity lost, 2018, acrylic, oil, oil stick and silk on bonded linen-cotton, 109.5 x 150 x 9cm approx.

Abstract painting, 2017, wool fibre on silk chiffon, 175 x 170cm approx.

Linen dress, 2017, acrylic house paint, acrylic artist's paint, found linen-blend dress, 92 x 53 x 11cm approx.

This work was chosen as finalist in the Moreton Bay Region Art Awards 2018

Substance (this is not a wardrobe), 2017, acrylic house paint and acrylic artist's paint on found wardrobe, installation view

This work was created in collaboration with Perrin Millard and Chris Underwood

  • Instagram

© 2021 by Genevieve Memory. Images and text remain the property of Genevieve Memory and are subject to copyright. 

Please reproduce images and text only with acknowledgment. 

Acknowledgement for all artworks appearing on this Instagram feed can be found on each individual Instagram post.