Title: In Conversation with the Architect
Format: Digital video
Documentary like, this work re-visits a recorded conversation with Stevenson’s then ninety year old father, Charles Stevenson, about the King George Sixth Secondary School in Honiara, Solomon Islands which he designed in 1964. He was an architect in the British Colonial Service in Nigeria and Solomon Islands during the 1950s to 1970s and played a key role in the implementation of modern infrastructure in those tropical colonies. In the film, their discussion is enacted through their hands pointing to more recent footage of the buildings fifty years later in 2011, while an edited text of their dialogue runs in parallel to this. Perspectives on colonial history and national independence weave through the conversation between father and daughter highlighting generational shifts and memory slippage. The work considers issues at stake in the inter-relationship between spoken word and materiality via conversation, architectural history and representational film imagery. Stevenson discusses this work in her paper (Re)constructing Tropical Architecture in Solomon Islands: Conversations with my Father,” Fabrications: The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand, 24:2, 214-243
Thematic tags: Documentary, body, decoloniality, history, family, architecture, modernism.
Louise Stevenson’s practice spans broadly across drawing, painting, installation, photography and film. Her work predominantly engages with the position of being “outside” and a shifting relationship to place. She draws on non-Western ideas of navigation that locate a floating-fixed position on the Ocean. The formative experience of growing up as an expatriate in Honiara, Solomon Islands, as well as travelling and living in Europe, informs this interest. Projects include drawing series related to living in Budapest, Hungary, paintings exploring transparency and opacity, installations working with objects and materials referencing memory, and photographic and film work exploring the legacy of modern architecture in the tropics (includes MFA and Doctoral work).
Archival material, along with associated personal histories and their intersection with the public domain, informs Stevenson’s more recent work. An ongoing project involves the research and visual exploration of a substantial photographic archive gifted to Stevenson by her father who was an architect in the British Colonial service in Nigeria and Solomon Islands. This archive records tropical modern architecture’s trajectory from Africa to the Pacific, and a particular geo-political era of colonial and modernist history. Stevenson’s work attempts to re-represent this history within a framework of shifting perspectives while holding the irresolvable space of colonial history. Several projects stem from this research with on-going multi-form presentations across photography, film, installation and writing.