Darebin Art Show

Mt. Cooper Estate

Public Description: 

Hybrid mythical creatures and giant Australian animals are common encounters in the artwork of Sharon West. Set in a traditional landscape, West presents a unique way of exploring the relationships between the white settler, Aboriginal cultures and the Australian landscape. The artist navigates within Australia’s colonial narratives to highlight the cultural conditions of settlement, and the accompanying dispossession of Aboriginal people from their land.

West’s artwork is grounded in satire and, at the same time, references Australian landscape movement paintings, reflecting colonial perspectives of history and myth, while imbued with the artist’s imagination and personal narratives. Offering re-imagined glimpses of Victorian history with people of the Kulin Nation, West creates statements about colonisation as an evolving historical and cultural process.

In Mt. Cooper Estate, West depicts a new housing development built on the north eastern slope of Mt. Cooper, an ancient land shaped by extremely powerful geological events. Standing at 137 metres, it is the highest point of landscape in metropolitan Melbourne and one of Victoria’s oldest, extinct volcanoes. Standing side by side in a uniformed pattern, large, modern homes of various types with manicured lawns and landscaped gardens are constructed on a place of great cultural significance. Mt. Cooper was an important ceremonial and camping ground and the site of an Aboriginal stone quarry and scarred trees. It constitutes part of the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri-Willam, a clan of the Woiwurrung language group that forms part of the Kulin Nation. Overlapping past with present, further up the hill, behind the water tower, are three Wurundjeri-Willam men, traditional owners of the land.

West has developed a comprehensive and impressive body of work examining the relationship between settler and Indigenous cultures within the context of Australian colonial art history. She practices principally with the mediums of painting, assemblage and digital media. West has exhibited widely in Australia and has curated a number of exhibitions working primarily with Victorian Indigenous artists. She is the recipient of various awards including the Excellence in Conceptual Photography Award Kodak Salon (CCP, 2011) Bendigo Bank Emerging Award for the ANL Maritime Art Awards (Mission to Seafarers, 2011), and winner of the Darebin Art Show (2011). Her artwork is held in public collections including the State Library of Victoria, City of Melbourne and the Museum of the British Empire (UK) as well as many private collections.

Mt. Cooper Estate © Sharon West

John Batman and his Party Encounter the Budgeroo of Bundoora

Public Description: 

Hybrid mythical creatures and giant Australian animals are common encounters in the artwork of Sharon West. Set in a traditional landscape, West presents a unique way of exploring the relationships between the white settler, Aboriginal cultures and the Australian landscape. The artist navigates within Australia’s colonial narratives to highlight the cultural conditions of settlement, and the accompanying dispossession of Aboriginal people from their land.

West’s artwork is grounded in satire and, at the same time, references Australian landscape movement paintings, reflecting colonial perspectives of history and myth, while imbued with the artist’s imagination and personal narratives. Offering re-imagined glimpses of Victorian history with people of the Kulin Nation, West creates statements about colonisation as an evolving historical and cultural process.

In appropriating history, West visualises and accentuates European mythologies; the notion of an uncivilised and empty land was the basis of colonial occupation and the formation of Aboriginal missions. In John Batman and his Party Encounter the Budgeroo of Bundoora, West conveys the idea of a dangerous and inhospitable land with an oversized monster, in this instance, a now extinct giant ‘Budgeroo’ dominating the landscape as encountered by John Batman and his party during their surveying of Port Phillip. The artwork was created first as a diorama revealing an artificial scene populated by plastic figures, a handcrafted ‘Budgeroo’ and painted background. The diorama was then photographed through glass, flattening the texture to further distort the legitimacy of colonial settlement.

West has developed a comprehensive and impressive body of work examining the relationship between settler and Indigenous cultures within the context of Australian colonial art history. She practices principally with the mediums of painting, assemblage and digital media. West has exhibited widely in Australia and has curated a number of exhibitions working primarily with Victorian Indigenous artists. She is the recipient of various awards including the Excellence in Conceptual Photography Award Kodak Salon (CCP, 2011) Bendigo Bank Emerging Award for the ANL Maritime Art Awards (Mission to Seafarers, 2011), and winner of the Darebin Art Show (2011). Her artwork is held in public collections including the State Library of Victoria, City of Melbourne and the Museum of the British Empire (UK) as well as many private collections.

John Batman and his Party Encounter the Budgeroo of Bundoora © Sharon West

A Brief History of Preston

Public Description: 

In A Brief History of Preston, Warren Lane powerfully distills two centuries of European settlement in Preston, a northern suburb of Melbourne located in the City of Darebin. During the colonisation of this area in the 1800s, the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri-willam people were overtaken with farming and various other pastoral activities eventually leading to the industrial and commercial developments of the present day.

An Indigenous man stands erect in the foreground of the painting, staring straight ahead as if looking into the future or perhaps it is the past. Behind him are two potent symbols of “progress” represented by Holstein Friesian dairy cattle and Northland shopping centre (c 2010), looming cavernous and omnipresent over a vast, empty car park temporarily devoid of consumer activity.

As a painter working predominantly in oils, Lane creates intricate and familiar scenes linked by themes of the built environment, politics, human rights and social change. Lane’s astute illustrative portraits and urban landscapes are skilfully structured compositions that employ a high degree of realism laced with an undercurrent of satire. His work is both thought provoking and humorous, inviting the viewer to contemplate the subject matter without pretension or distraction.

A Brief History of Preston © Warren Lane

Bundoora Homestead II

Public Description: 

In Bundoora Homestead II, Stephen Armstrong depicts the Queen Anne Federation style mansion set against a bright blue Australian sky. A circular driveway leading to the main entrance is cast in partial shadow. The fourteen-room homestead is dominated by double-storey balcony verandahs with striking architectural features including dominant hipped roofs, tall brick and stucco chimneys and terracotta grotesque finials located on the principal gables.

Situated on the slopes of Mt. Cooper, the highest point of landscape in metropolitan Melbourne, and one of Victoria’s oldest extinct volcanoes, Bundoora Homestead was designed in 1899 as the centre piece of a 606 acre (245 hectares) racehorse stud. Between 1920 and 1993 it operated as a convalescent farm and psychiatric repatriation hospital and from 2001 has functioned as a public art gallery and cultural heritage centre. Standing for over one hundred years, Bundoora Homestead is the keeper of many memories and much history.

Armstrong works primarily with oils, painting on site or plein air, in the traditional genres of the figure, still life and, predominately, landscape. His work generally investigates natural, built and urban environments as he captures the atmosphere of a specific place and time.

Bundoora Homestead II © Stephen Armstrong

Bundoora Homestead I

Public Description: 

In Bundoora Homestead I, Stephen Armstrong links the past and present through his depiction of Bundoora Homestead, a stately Queen Anne Federation style mansion. Built in 1899 for a prominent horse racing identity, John Matthew Vincent Smith (1857-1922) and his family, the homestead now operates as a public art gallery. A sense of foreboding prevails as fast moving storm clouds shroud the sky in black and purple hues. In the foreground, circular beds of roses and cannas are surrounded by immaculately manicured lawns reminiscent of the archetypal English manor house. Overlooking this scene is a single struggling palm tree while a solitary native Australian magpie forages for food before the storm breaks.

Armstrong works primarily with oils, painting on site or plein air, in the traditional genres of the figure, still life and, predominately, landscape. Armstrong's work generally investigates natural, built and urban environments as he captures the atmosphere of a specific place and time.

Bundoora Homestead I © Stephen Armstrong