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Art Sets.

Lessons from my favourite artists

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AGNSW collection Vincent Fantauzzo Heath 2008

AGNSW collection Vincent Fantauzzo Heath 2008

This work is bold. Its composition and lighting really captured my attention and the way the central figure, Heath Ledger, makes eye contact with the viewer made me feel a strong connection to it. The twin figures on each side create a morbid aura, which we as the audience are only just able to grasp.

Look for layers of meaning in artworks. Allow yourself to draw a connection not only visually, but also emotionally.

AGNSW collection Gordon Bennett Notes to Basquiat (in the future art will not be boring) 1999

AGNSW collection Gordon Bennett Notes to Basquiat (in the future art will not be boring) 1999

Artists are all inspired by each other. Gordon Bennett’s works are brilliant examples of ways we can borrow and re-present existing texts to create layers of meaning and a statement in order to make it our own. Bennett often re-interprets and makes reference to artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Vincent van Gogh and Colin McCahon.

Use signs and symbols, make references, draw relations, reinterpret, recreate and reuse... respectfully.

AGNSW collection Destiny Deacon Over the Fence 2000

AGNSW collection Destiny Deacon Over the Fence 2000

Destiny Deacon’s work is often quite playful and vibrant. However, despite the use of childlike props such as dolls, dresses and toys, there is a distressing and horrific tone. As a child I was always intrigued by this artist’s practice. She depicts black dolls in often disturbing scenarios.

Don’t be afraid to get under the skin of the audience, pushing them to step outside their comfort zone.

AGNSW collection Richard Bell Pay the rent 2009

AGNSW collection Richard Bell Pay the rent 2009

Richard Bell's art practice is often an act of protest. In this work he reinterprets, recreates and reinvents a land rights demonstration placard and displays it as a work of fine art. Although the work is colourful and vibrant, it makes me angry as an Aboriginal Australian. It makes me question, who should really be paying the rent? The original owners of this land or the people who stole it?

Be inspired to make a stand.

AGNSW collection Christian Thompson Untitled 2003

AGNSW collection Christian Thompson Untitled 2003

This work by Christian Thompson comes from the series Emotional striptease – a title and a photograph that make me, as a woman, feel extremely uncomfortable. The work shows an Aboriginal woman wearing colonial attire standing in front of a backdrop of Melbourne Museum . Exploring portraiture during the early ‘colonial’ period of Australia, the series makes reference to both historical and contemporary misrepresentations and relationships between people, culture and country.

Experiment with the use of contrast.

AGNSW collection Gunybi Ganambarr Gapu 2017

AGNSW collection Gunybi Ganambarr Gapu 2017

As an Indigenous educator I have been fortunate to immerse myself in a world of art I had not seen before. Through the work of Gunybi Ganambarr, I am inspired to understand and learn new practices. The artist has taken rubber from a mine conveyor belt and carved detailed designs to allude to rights that have been eroded, as has the surface of country itself.

Seek out new art experiences.

AGNSW collection Wally Wilfred Dhyakiyarr vs The King 2018

AGNSW collection Wally Wilfred Dhyakiyarr vs The King 2018

We should not be scared of the past nor should we ignore horrific histories. Wally Wilfred's sculpture may disturb us and cause discomfort. However, it reminds us of how important it is to learn about history through art, and to then pass that knowledge on.

Respect, learn, be aware.

AGNSW collection Tony Albert Headhunter 2007

AGNSW collection Tony Albert Headhunter 2007

Tony Albert has constructed this work using tourist souvenirs that reflect a debased view of Aboriginal people, which he contrasts with the strength and dignity implied by the word 'hunter'. The work allows me to step back and analyse the racist signs and symbols I was surrounded with growing up, and consider how I may be able to make a statement by re-using common items or phrases.

Stop stereotyping.

AGNSW collection Sidney Nolan The camp 1946

AGNSW collection Sidney Nolan The camp 1946

Through stories, we pass on information from generation to generation. Take the work of Sidney Nolan, whose grandfather was a trooper who hunted down the fugitive bushranger Ned Kelly back in 1880. The camp is just one of many works in which Nolan has depicted his masked muse, and re-written history through new eyes.

Storytelling is important.