Opening address by Gaelle Mellis

Gaelle Mellis officially opened the Fit In Room & Poetry of Object 0.1 at 6:30pm Friday 18th October

David Jobling (centre) Gaelle Mellis (right) opening the exhibition.
David Jobling (centre) Gaelle Mellis (right) opening The Fit In Room exhibition.

Below is a copy of the speech she made.

I am delighted to be here with you this evening to open David Jobling’s The Fit In Room. What is happening here in Adelaide at Tooth & Nail tonight is an important event for disability arts in South Australia. These works were created over the past year. Working long days and nights over the past year, David is sharing them with us on this gorgeous October evening. I’d like to share with you a quote from a Shiela Black poem:

“We could be anywhere but we are here with our stories.
Timidly we pull them out like rare coins, only to discover
How common they are at this table”

David is telling us stories that don’t often get told – oyut loud! His work is intelligent, honest, thoughtful, provocative, universal and very personal. David has had a prolific career in the arts. Actor, director, sound designer, playwright, dramaturge, voice artist, writer and visual artist. He has worked with some incredible companies and artists. David has also lived a life with disability. He knows firsthand what discrimination is. He knows what it’s like to be the outsider and the abused. David knows about attainment and loss and to take on the role of agitator and advocate. I am honoured that David asked me to open his exhibition. As a disabled woman and artist I am proud to belong to a community. When David showed me his work, we talked about the aesthetic of the shirts – the colours are attractive, perhaps a little bit punk – which is always appealing, well to me a ‘former punk’ and the aesthetic draws people in.

David says, “… the joke is more or less on me because most people see the bright colours and comment on how lovely the shirts are, how pretty even – and they don’t necessarily notice the darker elements. I don’t mind this in many ways because it’s when people look deeper at the layers and images that they start to discover what else is here in these garments… they start to see this is something challenging to wear.”

David hope s that people can take their time looking at these shirts and get an insight into sexual abuse, HIV, the media, and in some cases the way we wallpaper over things to make them pretty or simply forget them. You will have the chance to closely examine David’s work, and I encourage you to do so. What many think is in the past, perhaps a memory of how we/society used to be, is not. We believe children now when they tell us of sexual abuse? Perhaps we do, but there are still sexual abusers. We don’t discriminate against people who live with HIV? But there is still fear and uncertainty when people are disclosed. The exception in David’s story telling is perhaps the media, particularly tabloid media … which some argue is worse. Today there are many children and adults experiencing some of what David has experienced. I appreciate David’s honesty. I want to pay tribute and to congratulate David on this exhibition. In the words of the great and provocative Ian Drury, grandfather of punk and a well known disabled artist… Sweet Gene Vincent

“When your leg still hurts and you need more shirts, you gotta get back on the road”.

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