Nothing comes from nothing is a common saying meaning that everything has an origin, predecessor or has come from somewhere. The saying itself is traceable back to Greek philosopher Parmenides who argued, "there is no such thing as creation from nothing or decay to nothing, only change of substance". This idea is exemplified in this exhibition, which highlights the process of the creation of painting, sculpture, illustration and moving image.
Students at art school are taught to document, research, conceptualise, develop and refine what they do in order to achieve better results and evolve as an artist. In an education context, working and process is often critiqued more than the finalised object. Why then, when artists arrive in the "real" world, is the resolved object or work of art given most of the limelight? Why not show the public what happens in the duration and the inner workings of the artist's process? Exhibiting this progression gives the viewer more information and encourages them to spend more time interpreting the work and, therefore, analysing and assessing it further. The aim of the exhibition is a heightened level of engagement with the art.
The exhibition is a display of works by 11 artists that allows artists to uncover or reveal aspects of their visual art process to the viewer. The primary focus of the exhibition will be the preliminary stages of the artist's work, with the final work displayed as an accompaniment to the various stages of process. Each artist has a large amount of space to show how they arrived at the finished object. Every step of the process the artist chooses to display is treated similar to that of resolved works.
Some of the exhibiting artists have elements of their process they want to keep private for fear of judgment or unwillingness to expose the mystery and secrecy of their work.
Some maintain that it is the mysterious nature of what they do that creates interest and keeps their viewers engaged. Trade secrets and techniques are shown at the artist's discretion. The main requirement is that the process is well-documented and displays elements of progression.
Showing an artist's process is not so much about trying to get the viewer to understand the art (as interpretation is subjective), but about attempting to get the audience to think about what it takes to create art. Displaying various stages of the work enable a viewer to experience a different view than the traditionally exhibited, finished object. Through viewing much of what goes into the creation of a work, the audience has access to all the hard work, research, conceptualisation, skill development, time and devotion it takes to create work at a professional level. In other words, it represents the "work" component of the word "artwork".
There are precedents for an exhibition that exposes the process behind a work of art. Historically, workbook sketches and objects that relate to finished works have been exhibited to accompany bodies of work at public institutions. However, the emphasis on process is also something that has particular currency and relevance in the contemporary context: artists produce work in a gallery as process or performance art; live painting is prevalent in street art and tattoo. The point of distinction for this exhibition is that it makes the preliminary stages and the production the main area of interest, rather than an accompaniment. It aims to generate alternative perceptions of the artists and art forms represented.