"Whispering Fence is an essay in itself. It's about language as much as the politics of identity, and the simultaneously open and closed world of the suburban life which so many Australians enjoy. The texts push and pull, between welcome and go away. It's like overhearing a whispered conversation."
Richard Tipping, 2015
In 'Whispering fence' Richard Tipping has taken humble suburban picket fencing purchased from the local hardware store and transformed it into a statement which addresses the troubled history of immigration and xenophophia in Australia. Tipping explains: "'Whispering Fence' speaks to and of this country's ambiguous relationship to its original inhabitants, to its early waves of European settlers - from the forced arrival of convicts and their guards, to free migrants of many kinds, to refugees as new 'boat people'".
The pickets, an ultimate symbol of ownership and division, have been engraved with jingoist phrases and local references associated with backyard racism. Tipping has also considered pressing but largely overlooked social issues such as colonisation and the land rights of indigenous people. All and all, Tipping's 'Whispering fence' articulates, through object and text, trouble at home and misgivings with the 20th and 21st century aspirations of Australia.
88 engraved hardwood jarrah pickets
dimensions variable :
a-jjjj - Part a-jjjj; 150 x 6.5 x 2 cm
Signature & date
Signed and dated verso [part jjjj], incised "Richard Tipping 2003".
Signed verso [part jjjj], incised "RT [encircled] ...".
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program by Richard Kelly Tipping in memory of Barbara Kelly 2015
Not on display
© Richard Tipping
Shown in 3 exhibitions
Referenced in 1 publication
Words and things: concrete poetry, supersigns, multiple language, Daylesford, 2004, (colour illus., detail).