Originally trained in sculpture and drawing, I am a Sydney based multidisciplinary artist working across video, installation, objects and mixed media. Unconfined by constraints of a single medium, my work investigates themes of value, ruin, disintegration and disorder resulting from the havoc caused by European empire building and colonisation. In past works I have explored themes of capitalism through Dutch flower paintings and the role my colonial ancestors may have played in the frontier wars that resulted in the near genocide of Tasmanian Aboriginals. I use the devastation of the natural world as a symbol of these atrocities throughout my work. In addressing these colonial histories I highlight the continuing global impact on contemporary society.
My 2022 Masters of Fine Art project, From a disappearing world: drawing from the devastation wreaked on the unseen natural environment by imperial and colonial practices, offers a critical visual perspective on humanity's impact on the planet by linking today's ecological crisis with the legacies of empire building and colonisation. In particular, I focus on the devastation of the kelp forests in South Eastern Australia. The project locates the origin of this devastation in the global impact of empire building and colonisation, exploring how and why it came about and the consequent impact on the natural world. Humans have not contributed equally to climate change and my practice highlights this unequal contribution by referencing those in power during the greatest periods of empire building and also visualising contemporary themes of value and preciousness.
The artwork is contextualised by research on climate change scholarship, nature-culture dualism and the European imperial and colonial practices of exploitation of natural resources, plantation agriculture, genocide and the forced migration of people through slavery and incarceration. These practices have and continue to reshape lives and the natural world on a global scale. The project is also contextualised within the field of contemporary environmental aesthetics and amongst the diverse practices of contemporary visual artists addressing similar themes of human/ nonhuman conflict. The experimental materials based practice produces sculpture, photography and expanded forms of drawing using natural and artistic materials. Fragments of kelp are observed, collected, photographed, and re-presented as aesthetic forms through experiential engagement. More specifically, fragments of kelp, glass, and crystals are used to recreate the jewellery worn by the European colonising queens and images of the queens adorned with plundered diamonds, pearls and precious stones.
The confluence of the produced body of work, and the practice based art research and theoretical enquiry that led to its completion offers my contribution to the ecological ruin resulting from the legacies of empire building and colonisation.
Key words: Anthropocene, climate change, colonisation, ecology, ecocide, empire, environmental aesthetics, European monarchy, expanded drawing,
kelp, loss, nature-culture dualism, organic materials.