Dawn & Dusk – 2011

Skills: Collage, Painting

Dawn & Dusk

The Dawn and Dusk Club was a group of bohemian thinkers and drinkers whose membership included Henry Lawson. One of their more interesting proposals was to erect fake ruins around the country, so that Australians of European descent would have a better appreciation of Australian history.

During my first trip to the outback I was surprised by how alienated I could feel in the country I’d spent my whole life in. The landscape felt exotic and disturbing, the exact opposite of home. The fake ruins proposed by the Duskers appealed to me as a way of exploring the ambivalence and anxiety that often lies beneath transplanted cultures.

Media plays an important role in exploring this ambivalence. The oil paintings in Dawn & Dusk capture a sense of romanticism and history that ostensibly lies behind the idea of ruins. Collages, on the other hand, illustrate the humour and sense of ridicule that was cultivated by the Duskers.

Not everything in this show is fictional; Folly is a monument you can see in the Royal Botanic Gardens. It’s a scaled-down, sandstone replica of an ancient Athenian monument, carved in 1870 as a garden ornament for the Premier of NSW. It seems that the Duskers were onto something.