CASTELDINE EXHIBITS IN SUBI
ARTIST Mikaela Castledine is the first to admit to not being an intrepid traveller, but she has always wanted to visit Burma.
Her mother and grandmother were forced to flee Rangoon (now Yangon) during the Japanese bombing in 1942.
“Mum was eight and they left on Christmas Day, leaving all her toys behind, to escape,” Castledine said.
“She always talked about Burma, but never wanted to go back. It was a bit of a mythical place for us.”
Castledine, who works in paper collage and crochet sculptures, was awarded the Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe scholarship in 2013 for her work Tokyo Crows and used the prize money to fund a trip in 2014 with artist husband Stephen to her family’s homeland.
“My mum is 82 and has Alzheimer’s, so when I went there I wanted to find her memories,” Castledine said.
“It was very much about me going to those places. I found where she was born and the church she was baptised in and things like that because those memories were no longer available to me through mum.”
Her experience has inspired her latest exhibition Reliquaries, showing at Linton and Kay Subiaco from July 25 to August 9, featuring 30 collage pictures and eight sculptures.
“Whenever I do an exhibition from a trip, I take thousands of photos and spend a year just immersed in those images, so I couldn’t have done the exhibition without the trip,” Castledine said.
“It is a record of what I saw, but also what I felt when I was there.
“In my exhibition I talk about Burma and not me and mum, because for me, I was trying to go back to a time as well as a place.
“I was trying to go back in time to the Burma she and my grandmother had known, rather than the modern place.”
Castledine said the exhibition’s title stemmed from how she regarded her art – as a place where she kept her ideas, thoughts and memories safe.
Her piece Reliquary, featuring a young girl asleep under a glass bell, is one example of this.
“My grandmother always used to tell me a story about her holidays in Mandalay where they would go for day trips up to a place called Mingoon which had the biggest bell in the world at the time,” Castledine said.
“When she was eight, she and her brothers naughtily wrote their names inside the bell.
“I was told it was probably just a story, but when I went there, the bell is as big as a room and you crawl under the rim and stand inside, the entire inside of the bell was covered in names.
“I realised her name was somewhere there under all those names where she wrote it a hundred years ago. It was such a moving moment to be in the same spot.”
Artist Mikaela Castledine.