When we moved to Cherrybrook in 1982, the suburb was mostly virgin bushland and old farms with a few scattered houses. The area now known as Mike Kenny Oval was a neglected farming paddock occupying just a couple of rundown corrugated iron sheds. In the late ’80s, the local council transformed those paddocks into sporting fields, and as a young boy, I played a lot of football there. It was exciting to watch the early stages of development unfold. A quarter of a century has passed, and Cherrybrook has wholly changed.
Suburbia is not a particularly common subject throughout art history, even though suburban life is reassuringly familiar to many Australians. This body of work is a product of my personal approach to the subject matter.
I have often drawn inspiration from places and times where recent history and family history connect. Over ten years ago during a residency in the Hawkesbury, I first painted my maternal ancestor, First Fleeter Robert Forrester, who had settled in Windsor (A History of Violence, Gold Coast City Art Gallery, 2008). I went on to develop a broader body of work that illustrated the personal tension I feel between family history and the role of the British in the shameful colonisation of First Australians (Cultural Imperialism Hawkesbury Regional Gallery, 2010). I further traced my convict ancestry back to near Carlisle during a residency in the North of England (The Mother Land, The Fine Art Society Contemporary, London, 2012).
Mike Kenny Oval sits within Greenway Park. This park got its name after Francis Greenway, who was an architect before being transported to Australia as a convict for committing forgery. Greenway was known for designing buildings in Sydney such as the Hyde Park Barracks and St Matthew’s Church in Windsor. Coincidentally, after Robert Forrester passed away, he was buried in Windsor at Greenway’s St Matthew’s Church.
The Cherrybrook series began as a collection of digital drawings sketched on an iPad. These drawings then evolved into a series of collages. Small cut out pieces of raw plywood and painted with thin acrylic wash and glazes. Experimenting with materials has always been essential to my practice. The assembly of various components in collage contributes to the immediacy and directness of these works.
2-5 August 2018
Melbourne Art Fair (with Olsen Gallery)
Southbank Arts Precinct, Melbourne