Local Artist

Lyric Theatre at Merri Creek

Public Description: 

Lyric Theatre at Merri Creek (2003) comes from Siri Hayes’ Lyric Theatre series (2002-2004). This large digital photographic print is of a scene on the Merri Creek trail. Three people are placed near the creek, one watching the creek babbling by as two others near the large branch of a tree appear to be in deep conversation. The Lyric Theatre series examines human relationships and presence in an urban environment and this work, while being reminiscent of a film still or theatrical production, is open to speculation and interpretation. It invites the viewer into the drama from a position of familiarity with the local surrounds of the City of Darebin.

Bundoora Homestead Welcome

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 the richly textured Bundoora Homestead Welcome, West reflects on three distinct histories. Pre-colonial settlement is represented in the foreground by the land’s traditional owners, local Wurrundjeri Willam men, hunting for food when Mt. Cooper was an important ceremonial and camping ground. The middle ground depicts the occupants of Bundoora Homestead going about their daily activities; men astride horses and a woman promenading through the gardens with parasol in hand. The background shows Bundoora Homestead, a Queen Anne Federation style mansion built in 1899 as the centrepiece of 600 acre horse stud which was refurbished by Darebin City Council in 2001 as a public art gallery and heritage facility for the wider community to enjoy. Presented in an oval shaped picture frame, as was fashionable during the 1800s to the mid- 20th century, the word 'Welcome' is printed around the edge of the artwork in some of the most popular languages currently spoken in the Darebin municipality.

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.

Bundoora Homestead Welcome © Sharon West

Hearing the Music: A Portrait of Christos Tsiolkas

Public Description: 

In Hearing the Music: A Portrait of Christos Tsiolkas, Nick Stella eloquently captures the passion and intensity of the internationally acclaimed, award winning author, Christos Tsiolkas. Stella skilfully compels the viewer to look into the eyes of his subject who seems to stare back at us with a beguiling sense of compassion and understanding.

Hearing the Music: A Portrait of Christos Tsiolkas © Nick Stella

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

Puppy (2)

Public Description: 

In Puppy (2) Natalie Thomas pays homage to Jeff Koon’s Puppy (1992) as she explores the interaction between humans, pets, science and our experience of nature. Thomas uses tiny shells to cover a plaster spaniel creating a fur effect that references the folk art traditions of seaside town mementos, and a childhood spent growing up in Queensland.

From classical antiquity, the shell or mollusc has been regarded as one of the most amazing achievements of nature, and has frequently been imitated in works of art. The architecture and astonishing ornamentation of shells are used in this work to compose an external covering suggestive of armour on forms; recognisable as a puppy. The use of shells to represent form and fur is a means through which complex human experience is distilled down to simple motifs and ideas; in this instance the experience of walking with a dog on a beach. Research assures us of the significant emotional benefits of pet ownership. Whether the mechanism is touch, exercise, attachment, non-evaluative social support, or some combination of these, the human connection to the non-human animal world is enjoyed by many and merits our close consideration.

Natalie Thomas has a diverse and independent visual and performing arts practice encompassing sculpture assemblage, gardening and photography. She works with multiple themes which are driven by an interest in the media landscape, consumption and popular culture. Thomas has exhibited extensively as an individual and as part of a collaborative project ‘nat&ali’ at the National Gallery of Victoria, Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney), Institute of Modern Art (Brisbane) and Art Basel 2010 (Florida, USA). She is the recipient of the William and Winifred Bowness Prize for Photography, Monash Gallery of Art (2008) and a winner of the Darebin Art Show (2013).

Puppy (2) © Natalie Thomas.

Outback, Preston

Public Description: 

Senior’s artwork interrogates the themes of suburbia, industry and human influence over the landscape. His practice investigates the literal landscape with attention to the reduction of features achieved through colour blocking, architectural volumes and geometry to describe the human-intervened landscape. Influenced by artists such as Richard Estes (United States b.1932), Charles Sheeler (United States 1883-1965) and Jeffrey Smart (Australia 1921-2013), his work is evocative and contemplative, filled with intricate detail and informed by a passion for finding beauty in the built landscape.

Outback, Preston © Ken Senior

Crossing the Merri

Public Description: 

Crossing the Merri(2003) comes from Siri Hayes’ Lyric Theatre series (2002-2004). This large digital photographic print depicts a scene of still beauty as the couple contemplate the Merri Creek and surrounds. The image by Hayes is of Merri Creek in winter with the bare deciduous trees, ragged in nature but not indigenous to the local area. These trees were later removed to make way for indigenous planting so this photograph also documents the changing values we have in relation to our environment.

Black Dog

Public Description: 

In Black Dog, Warren Lane conveys a sense of nostalgia for times past when Edwardian and Art Deco designed buildings were the heart and soul of a thriving neighbourhood High Street. He masterfully observes the elegant decay of derelict and depressed suburban structures as changing facades reflect their faded glory. The black dog appears to be passing his own judgement on their potential demise. Demolition is almost certain with high density housing and modern retail outlets as their future destination.

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.

Black Dog © Warren Lane

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