Variable installation – selection from 100 drawings on postcards & photographs, Maudespace, Sydney; 1997 Lismore Regional Art Gallery, NSW & 2013 Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, Townsville
Much of my work is broadly concerned with the journey through life in all its psychological, spiritual, philosophical and sociological complexity.
Growing up immediately after the end of WW II, a first generation Australian of European refugee parentage, was to simultaneously experience a sense of difference and belonging. This raised questions of identity, which manifested from an early age in an overwhelming attraction to cultures other than the then dominant Anglo-Saxon. It paved the way to becoming ‘the traveller’, resulting in many journeys to diverse places over the next 50 years.
Following the completion of three years work about my relationship with the Nazi Holocaust, I found myself reflecting upon the Vietnam war.
On an unexpected visit to the USA, I therefore took the opportunity to visit the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC where the living are reflected on the black granite wall engraved with the names of the 58,000 Americans who died in this conflict. I found myself unexpectedly and deeply moved by the experience which became the point of entry into the research and subsequent work on the subject. The research included varied sources from Australia, USA and Vietnam and aimed at examining some of the legacies of that most divisive and controversial of wars,the ‘other’ war of my generation. The enormity of her struggle toward self- determination and, in recent years, the Doi Moi policy, marked a country in a state of rapid change and beckoned the ‘artist/traveller’.
“A Place of Tribute” forms a partial record of the resultant four-week journey to Vietnam in 1996. Such a journey is, by definition, an accretion of layered fragments of experience, thoughts, feelings and all that impinges on the senses and, as such is reflected in the process of the work itself. The work comprises one hundred photographs and postcards overlaid with drawings, which allow the still palpable traces of war to emerge and recede with the tide of everyday life in its progression toward reconciliation and recovery. The work is also a parody of the picture perfect world portrayed in tourist postcards or holiday snapshots, which conceal the trauma of war and the complexity inherent in the healing of its seen and unseen wounds.