Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ben Quilty (Australian) - indigenous issues, Australian identity, masculinity

Ben Quilty
Landcruiser, 2007
Cinese Ink and Goauche on Aquari paper
188 x 282cm

It’s an old trick. Take a universal, publicly owned snatch of
melody, fanfare, phrase or image and pervert it. Ben Quilty
has used the Australian coat of arms, an image so offi cial and
hoary it’s almost invisible, and mounted it on a mesa piled
with skulls. The shield-bearers are presented as road-kill,
the kangaroo muzzle fl attened by a double bogie. Between
them now is a cairn of skulls knitted by worms and lies. The
crest is a convict shackle, looking as though it was cut from
a kerosene tin, just to make it clear that not all the bones
belonged to Indigenous Australians.
Like most people, Ben Quilty defi es caricature. A bogan who
chose to pursue a degree in Aboriginal culture. A petrolhead
who buys his art supplies at Bunnings, yet carries tiny
notebooks full of the most exquisite pen-and-ink sketches of
Venice done in his recent youth. Close in, where Quilty works,
his paintings look like a bad paving job. Step back twenty
feet and he’s caught the whole sorry tale, a country built by
the survivors of pogroms, massacres and land clearances
elsewhere, who found a haven here on land cleared by
massacres of our own.
Don Walker

Text from: UQ Art Museum http://www.uq.edu.au/maynecentre/docs/BenQuiltyInterpretiveGuide.pdf

When people ask him why he paints such pessimistic work, Quilty says his view of Australians preferring to ignore the less-than-rosy aspects of Australian history is confirmed. "I love my life, my family, friends and work, and I'm a very lucky person," he says. "But there are some really bad things happening. It seems to me that in Australia no one talks about them, and if you do you're branded as a pessimist. It's just ridiculous.
"The whole 'un-Australian' thing at the moment, that's just insane. I mean, Captain Cook shot the first Aboriginal he met - well, let's talk about that. What's un-Australian? What school do you ever learn Aboriginal in? You learn French and German but I've never heard of a school that teaches Aboriginal and that's the most un-Australian thing I can think of."
Quilty also finds it bizarre that the Union Jack, rather than a representation of Aboriginal people, remains on the Australian flag. "I'm happy to burn the flag. As long as it's got the Union Jack on it, I'll burn it. The Australian flag, as it is, speaks to me of oppression and invasion and it's so politically incorrect to say any of this stuff, but it's also so obvious."

Text from:

Rorschach – the
Butterfly Effect, 2008.

Where did all this darkness come from? "I started using the skull image when I was buying kids' clothes for my cousins," Quilty, 34, says. "Everything for boys had skulls emblazoned on it. And I just thought, it's such a weird thing to be instilling in little boys, who are full of life."

Friday, September 2, 2011


1214 High Street
METRO GALLERY showcases some really interesting artists and is well worth a look if you are ever in the area. This month they have Anthony Lister on show.

Hayden Fowler (Australian) - politics

For Hayden Fowler, one motivation for his art practice is a critique of contemporary Western society. Fowler investigates our interactions with the natural world and how we define ourselves with regard to nature. He is interested in the nexus between civilisation and the domestication of animals, focusing on aspects such as interdependency and adaptation.

In the video White Australia, white rats scuttle through two holes in a similarly tiled interior space. Talking about the work, Fowler describes it as his response to what he saw as the dangerously apathetic nature of dominant Australian culture during ‘the height of the Howard years’. Inspired by the unthinking mass movements of 9-5 commuters at a busy train station, the artist presents his rats as creatures caught in a system of power they have little control over. (1)
Highlighting the disquieting possibilities of our own increasingly narcissistic preoccupations, Fowler’s work suggests the need for a necessary empathetic relationship between humankind and animals.

Text from: the MCA website - http://collection.mca.com.au/fowler-hayden/white-australia/

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Patricia Piccinini (Australian) – science and ethics (biotechnology)

Game Boys Advanced, 2 002, silicone, polyurethane, clothing, human hair.
The two boys are cloned twins. On close inspection alarming signs of premature aging can be seen. The source for this idea was Dolly the sheep. Dolly was a ewe (5 July, 1 996 – 1 4 February, 2 003) famous for being the first mammal to be cloned from a cell. Dolly’s death at the premature age of six years prompted debate about the biological and ethical consequences of cloning.

‘Patricia Piccinini is an artist who explores the frontiers of science and technology through her sculptures, photographs and video environments. Since the early 1 990s, Piccinini has pursued an interest in the human form and its potential for manipulation and enhancement through bio-technological intervention. From the mapping of the human genome to the growth of human tissue and organs for stem cells, Piccinini’s art charts a terrain in which scientific progress and ethical questions are intertwined.’
Rachel Kent, ‘Fast forward: accelerated evolution’, catalogue essay for exhibition call of the wild,
Museum of C ontemporary Art, Sydney, 2 002.

Text from: http://www.unisa.edu.au/samstagmuseum/exhibitions/2009/docs/CollidingWorldsEducationResource.pdf
an education resource for the colliding worlds exhibition at the Samstag Museum in SA.

Our Wordpress site - for all your visual research needs

Hey, if your interested in some interesting websites for inspiration and visual research try going
This is for all visual art students at Sandy to use and it will be updated as regularly as possible.
Happy hunting.