FAR-AWAY ISLAND

PHD EXHIBITION @  SPECTRUM PROJECT SPACE (ECU GALLERIES), WA

The series of paintings titled ‘Far-Away Island’ is a fictional island inhabited by five ‘peoples’ (green, red, orange, blue and purple) living, working and travelling between the island’s five respective provinces. These paintings piece together a fragmented and non-linear story of interconnecting trade, industry and conflict. The island’s mythology integrates videogame tropes into my approach to painting as a storytelling medium. As such, ‘Far-Away Island’ is conceived as a series of videogame screenshots that present a multiplicity of potential pathways, choices and determinations to follow. ‘Far-Away Island’ emerged in response to my experiences of cross-cultural collaboration with local and international artists during the COVID-19 pandemic. These collaborations were prompted by a curiosity about cultural difference, as well as an interest in mythology and reverence for myth’s ability to shape people’s views, attitudes and beliefs. The contemporary mythology developed in this series is directly informed by my encounters with plurality, incommensurability and divergence during cross-cultural collaboration through the period of my PhD research. To honour the collaborating artists who shared in encounters that directly informed specific works, their names feature in the extended titles of particular paintings—inspired by Francis Bacon’s 1953 painting, ‘Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X’. The title, ‘Far-Away Island’, is a reference to Australia as the culturally diverse, yet tension-filled, colonial context in which these collaborations took place. In this way, ‘Far-Away Island’ is also a mythological response to contemporary Australia—its histories, geographies and communities—that explores notions of cultural identity, hybridity and tensions inherent to multiculturalist spaces.

Photographs: Patricia Amorim