CONTEMPORARY ART GALLERY
11th - 20th June 2021
REVIEW: Professor Ted Snell RECOMMENDED TED, HONORARY PROFESSOR
School of Arts and Humanities
Edith Cowan University
Kelsey Ashe’s remarkable exhibition at the Moores Building Contemporary Art Gallery is a must see. The scale and ambition of her work is impressive and her ability to create powerful images that occupy the room has an immediate impact. The use of a replicated hand cut woodblock perfectly situates these works in a time of colonisation and documents the Walyalup/Fremantle landscape with crisp and affecting incisions that fix the images in the brain. She consciously frames these works as an attempt to “subvert, intervene or disrupt the colonial archive. The archive itself becomes a potential site for artistic forms of de-colonial intervention and disruption; a place where an un-settling of the European Status Quo’s frames of reference can be hosted.” This is an outstanding exhibition that must be experienced #RECOMMEND_TED @ecu#kelseyashe @worldofashe
Archetype has allowed me a space to reflect on 20 years of practice as a cross-disciplinary artist and to gather and make sense of the threads of exploration that have dominated my creative research.
Narratives of cultural expression, embedded in the motifs of the Australian landscape have formed the structure of my artistic practice. Locating my own cultural expression within the landscape has run parallel to my search for the sublime – the quest for spiritual meaning within the vastness of the cosmos, from my own corporeal vantage point.
My current studio practice in print-media seeks to acknowledge, question and examine the impact of colonialism on the cultural and spiritual identity of all Australians. I suggest the idea that the construction of cultural identity by artists in Australia can be grounded in landscape and effectively depicted in landscape motifs; however, this foundation can be built upon, so that previous conceptions can be inflected, altered, challenged and enriched by an artist’s subjectivity.
That my own cultural identity is ‘Australian’ – yet embedded in colonial transactions of occupying un-ceded land, convictism and migratory cross-culturalism sits uncomfortably with my absolute conviction that the land of Australia is sacred and sovereign to the Aboriginal people.
Imagining a period of ‘Deep Time’, when the waters of the Indian ocean were much lower than today, allows a transcending, “a spiralling above and away” from the tyranny of the colonial endeavour and assists my visualisation and sense of the place of Walyalup, Noongar Boodjar (Fremantle, Noongyar Country).
In contemplating de-colonising practice, whilst still engaging in my interest in the colonial archive of cultural and historical documentation, I ask how my investigations can subvert, intervene or disrupt the archive, and ask for it to be viewed in new ways. The archive itself becomes a potential site for artistic forms of de-colonial intervention and disruption; a place where an un-settling of the European Status Quo’s frames of reference can be hosted.
I cannot deny my position as an occupier/settler/new Australian and the implications of that inheritance. What I can do is embrace alternative epistemologies to challenge neo-colonial forms of racism, privilege and oppression. I can re-articulate marginalised or silenced histories whilst talking with the Aboriginal people who were most affected by these histories. I can make art via collaboration, to try and understand a different view point and importantly – the kartjin (knowledge) that we need to look after this ancient land that cradles us all. ✠
Photos: Dr. Toni Wilkinson
& Dr. Kelsey Ashe