PRESS RELEASE Throughout the 1990's she has been engaged in a series of direct 'exchanges', searches for relationships between herself and the visitor in the process of making art, live in public. Garrard has been constructing 'arenas for conversation' with 'Calgary Conversation' 1991 and 'Disclosing Dialogues' 1992, which mark a new approach to artist's residencies as time-based live work.

Most mornings through an outreach programme which targets organisations and communities in the social context outside the art institution, Garrard goes to meet individuals and invites them to the gallery to talk with her as part of the work. The gallery installation develops in time as a 'conversation' between artist and individual visitor in which memories, texts, images and objects are contributed by them to guide Garrard's imaging process towards specific issues, people and events which visitors have experienced and regard as significant. Garrard in turn has installed a matrix of initial objects in the space which indicate clearly the subject around which the present dialogues are being focused. Each week is dedicated to examining an identified system of oppression, a process that is wholly dependent on participation by visitors who take an active and enthusiastic role, often returning frequently to see how the piece is developing.

Garrard sees her own ritual task as 'learning to listen to what's being said, not what I think I already know. A process of uncovering what I've learned not to see or hear. Creating a space for listening, for being surprised, for possibility, beyond my own prejudices and opinions.'
Bev Bytheway, Cornerhouse, Manchester 1993

ARTIST'S NOTES I conceived these 'conversations' as beginning from the moment I stepped off the plane in Calgary. As a result a week later the gallery contained a central installation which summarised my colonial preconceptions of Canada; eight portrait drawings of indigenous Canadians taken from photographs by 19th century western settlers and a logged tree hung upside down above a reflective pool of dark car oil. In tiny gold frames single words summarised the processes by which peoples throughout the world are subjugated. The gallery itself ran from north to south and I dedicated each of its walls to an exploration of a system of oppression; Paternalism,Colonialism, Imperialism and Racism - which during the first week of my 'research' had emerged as perhaps the most cared about but least discussed issues effecting the people of Calgary.

As a daily live process throughout the three weeks, 'in conversation' with the feelings, experiences and information shared with me by visitors, I drew a single colour 'mural' in conté on each of the walls. These 'murals' were, in sequence, black, red, yellow and white, the colours which indigenous Canadians identify with each racial group in the world. Whilst working with each colour I wore clothing of the same colour. Every actual conversation was focused primarily around the single system of oppression that I was then engaged in drawing, creating a multi-faceted picture of the experiences of people from many racial origins during the process of becoming Canadian.

"One of the first things is for people to engage in dialogue together, without trying to solve any problem. That would certainly change culture and society. What we need is to be able to talk, to communicate. At present there are great differences and many of these are not negotiable. What is needed is a dialogue in the real sense of the word 'dialogue', which means 'flowing through'. The basic idea of this dialogue is to be able to talk, while suspending your opinions, holding them in front of you, while neither suppressing them nor insisting upon them. Not trying to convince but simply to understand. The first thing is that we must perceive the. whole meaning of everybody, without having to say who's right and who's wrong. It is more important that we all see the same thing. That will create a new frame of mind in which there is a common consciousness."
Rose Garrard 1991
(Text from David Bohm, Quantum Physicist, 1990, 'Art Science and Spirituality' Academy Editions, London 1990)

New Art Gallery Calgary Canada

Twelve foot high felled tree, four foot circular metal dish of engine-oil, eight monochrome portraits supported on gauze hangings, twelve tiny gilt frames with text, four chairs, objects given by visitors, four plain walls each with a single colour conté mural, texts and visitors hand prints. Art as performer wearing 1. black 2. red 3. yellow and 4. white clothing. Artist residency of four weeks

The Canada Council