Australia’s arts sector has been hit hard by the coronavirus with Brisbane-based conceptual artist Sue Ridge being just one practitioner whose work and career are now in jeopardy.
Ms Ridge (main picture), who claims to have invented the excretionism art movement, said panic buying in the wake of the coronavirus crisis had forced her to suspend work on her a massive work which she described as her “life’s masterpiece”.
“I have been a pioneer in the use of extreta in art,” Ms Ridge said.
“It began when my parents took me to visit the Queensland Art Gallery as a child where we saw an exhibition of abstract works which my father unkindly described as ‘shit’.
“That gave me the idea of making art with faeces and I’ve been doing it all my life.
“I began with small-scale works inspired by Bulgarian installation artist Christo that involved wrapping small portions of my own turds in toilet paper.
“The acquisition of Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles by the Whitlam Government in the 1970s was another inspiration.
“At that time I undertook a large two-dimensional work entitled Poo Poles, but unfortunately I couldn’t find a gallery to hang it.
“Later I was inspired by the work of Jeff Koons, especially his huge stainless steel animal sculptures. But mine were on a much smaller scale and involved wrapping animal droppings in toilet paper.”
Ms Ridge said she had planned to make 2020 a milestone in her career by creating one artwork a day for the entire 366 days of the leap year.
“But those plans have turned to shit — and not in a good way — because of the coronavirus,” she explained.
“All was going well since the start of the year but in the last fortnight I have not been able to source toilet paper for creating my works which I call ‘artwipes’.
“I have completed only 67 artwipes so far and look like doing no more unless people stop panic buying toilet paper and I can get my hands on some.
“I’ve tried using small squares of linen or canvas but it’s just not the same. You can see the difference, and I can certainly feel it,” she said.