Updated: Mar 29
séance, curated by Sean Morris, opened at Stanley Street Gallery in Sydney on Wednesday 19 February 2020. Sean invited artists to respond to the concept of 'séance' and for the work to be predominately black. I have developed a series of work, Self reconciliation, for the exhibition.
Buried within the collections of the State Library of Queensland are two original photographs taken during a séance held in Brisbane on 24 October 1888. The photographs show an excellent example of independent slate-writing, where (purportedly) spirits of the dead communicate with the living by writing messages on a slate in the presence of a medium. (Fred Evans held the séance in Brisbane at the invitation of the Psychological Society of Brisbane.)
Growing up on the edge of the desert in Western Australia my childhood was filled with experiences of the landscape. This developed into a love of nature and over the intervening years my connection to 'place' has driven my artistic practice. However an illusory 'white' history has gradually been revealed and I cannot ignore it. I am forced to re-examine my own past and my place within it.
My work in séance draws inspiration from the slate-writing of Fred Evans and my own white history in and around the area I was born- particularly around pastoral and mining leases. It explores the 'voices of a white past' communicating the deceits and illusions of my white history.
The works explore the 100 years of my family history, who where one of the first settler families arriving in the township of Quairading, the central wheatbelt in WA. As new settlers they were given free land. Through the use of text depicting voices from my past, the 'slate' displays the story of family migration, their settlement in Quairading, and the persecution during the same period inflicted on Australia's First Nation's people in the area.