Artist Mark Cernovskis, Roo-Bot – Tipp Off Sculpture Challenge, 2013 Katherine Fringe Festival

As a part of the 2013 Katherine Fringe Festival, the inaugural Tip Off Sculpture Challenge provided creative outlet for the many people in the Katherine region to find art in everyday items that had passed their use-by date. Still functional in form and texture, the junk from which these wonderful creations has come is proof that what is considered the refuse of society is often only wasted because of lack of imagination.

From robotic kangaroos to cavernous balls of origami folded from pages of books no longer wanted and cocooning dusty dolls’ heads, shovels developing faces and 44 gallon drums stacking more life than when they were full of their originally intended cargo, this exhibition challenges the people of Katherine to consider the beauty that is all around us and often unrecognised.

It also forces us to consider the huge pile of junk out on the Victoria Highway to which we all contribute every day. Fair enough, palm fronds are the primary culprit to the size of that pile, and as attested by the choice of medium of our artists this year, they really are useless bloody things. But how far do we want the boundaries of that rubbish pile to be in one hundred or one thousand years? How can we re-interpret material items no longer desired but still of inherent value to make sure they are not wasted? How do we sustain our beautiful river without the contents of our refuse polluting it’s sandy banks? And possibly most of all, what makes us happy?

The exhibition also challenges us to consider what an artist is, and by moving into a medium that many of us Territorians feel comfortable in and indeed thrive, it reveals that there are many creative people in our town and our region. Maybe art is simply about creating beauty in a way that makes us reflect and consider the complexities of humanity and the environment in which we live.