Operation Art was an exhibition of art made by nurses and organised by Megan Evans for the Austalian Nurses Foundation. There were various prizes awarded jointly by Kevin Murray from Craft Victoria and Liza Fitzpatrick from ANF. The awards were made on the anniversary of Florence Nightingale's death. The winner was Penelope Lee, who made a sculpture out of surgical dams which were used in the sex industry. These are champagne flavoured and evoke dreams of pinkness shared by many of the women that Penelope interviewed. Her work reflects a growing interest in finding artistic uses for practical materials. Penelope is also curator of the Cunningham Dacks collection of art made by inmates of psychiatric institutions.
Here is Penelope's statement about her work:
Pretty Pink Thing and Spread
2004 and 2005
Works that question the inherent qualities of an original object, formally and conceptually investigating its materiality and relationships.
Pretty Pink Thing and Spread are two independent works grounded in an actual object, rendered non functional and non representational through its manipulation and patterning.
The champagne flavoured latex dams, barriers and a safeguard for the exchange of bodily fluids, are flexible and responsive. The authentic material, known and activated through its relationship with the body, leave traces of the living - chronicling a personal and collective history of portraits. Through its presence we see the absent body and the restrictions and abundance of fe/male sexuality.
There is a restraint in the material, minimal yet humanizing and expressive.
The material feminises the space - dealing with both an interior within an interior, reflecting “inner truths and outer experiences”.
The soft visual landscape of Spread also references a feminist concern for the sanctioned history of women-made crafts.
Penelope Lee, 2005