What good is dust, really?

I was reaching down behind my bed the other day, to plug in my electric blanket (yes, already but I was really cold) and discovered a whole new world of dust and cobwebs. Gross. Completely disgusting. How does it build up so quickly? Anyway I promptly got out the hoover (well, dsyon) and eradicated that new world…apologies to dust mites. In the course of doing this act of housework I began to think about how much I dislike dust. A lot. In fact my motto growing up was “I wish someone would invent a dust free house”. In fact Ive been known to lament that many times over recent years. Please someone, invent a dust free house!

What on earth is dust good for anyway? I was asking myself this question. And found that I answered myself too. No, I am not going crazy, because I was reminded of an installation our family were privileged to view a couple of years ago.

It was in a little B&B cottage, called Enacasa near Talbot. The artist, Hannah Bertram, created patterns using stencils and various powdery substances, inspired by the private homes used for each exhibition. It was fascinating and peaceful and ethereal. In this case her dust was the sweepings of very fine sawdust from the shed on the property, which made the artwork more authentic. She also used flour in some parts of her installation. It was, in fact a very beautiful installation.

Upon researching Hannah Bertram I discovered that this particular installation was one in a group of exhibits created in various homes around Victoria. The entire project was titled ‘The silence of becoming and disappearing’. The artist’s intention was to create temporary and ephemeral works that explored “ornament and it’s relationship to preciousness”. A study on bringing together the ordinary with the beautiful and giving the ordinary value.

I was and still am completely fascinated by this premise and the project created by Hannah Betram. I love that the residents of each home were the ones who determined the duration of the work and who would view it. I love that a lovely lady in the book shop in Talbot told us about the project on the day it was happening, and we just turned up and were welcomed warmly into someone’s home. It was a special and brave moment where we felt part of something unique, made more so by the fact that this was only a passing moment, experienced by just a few.

It is a brave artist who puts their work into the hands of others. I think Hannah Betram’s work is beautiful in its presentation but also in the way of celebrating what is so ordinary and everyday. So, what good is dust, really?

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