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Imaginary Territories

Dark Swan Exhibitions Presents:

Imaginary Territories

Curated by Kelsey Ashe


PS Art Space 

22 Pakenham Street, Fremantle WA

Opening night: Friday 16th October   Exhibition: 17th Oct - 14th Nov 2020


WA Visual Artists + Lucille Martin + Jo Darbyshire + Toni Wilkinson + Kelsey Ashe + Rebecca Paterson + Ish Marrington

OPENING NIGHT: Spoken Word Poetry by ‘3Sisters’ First Nation Spoken Word Artists Barabara Hostalek + Jessie Ward + Laila Bano

Dark Swan Neo-Classical Ensemble +Brendan Giambazi Arco Double Base and Guitar + Michelle Smith 45 String Harp + Cathy Woodhouse Soprano + Nicholas Duff Piano + Violin

Exquisite Corpse Live performance 

(See below)

Imaginary Territories  is a Feminist Surrealist Visual Art Exhibition, an odyssey that travels within, yet is global in outlook, acknowledging the centenary of the emergence of Surrealist modes of artistic inquiry from Europe 100 years ago, which spread worldwide, right to the ends of the earth, into the far-away Antipodes.


Through this Surrealist lens, the artists’ territories are simultaneously real and imagined, explored into being; a place where both conscious and subconscious realities are envisioned. 


Imaginary Territories curator and Artist Dr. Kelsey Ashe has asked the artists to consider their “inner topographies” and to question how this can assist in “overcoming the earthbound borders, barriers and displacements we find ourselves in this modern era”.


In circumstances of unprecedented scarcity for funding in the arts, The Department of Culture and the Arts are supporting the commission for Four female WA artists to create significant new contemporary visual artworks.  What can be recognised here is that in an era of environmental/world crisis and political divisiveness to conceive new realities has become critically important.   


Surrealism has been central to some of Australia’s most respected contemporary women artists, including Pat Brassington, Polexini Papapetrou and Petrina Hicks, to name a few.  The artists in this exhibition were chosen for their practice related to surrealist enquiry, and also for their interest in the legacy of Feminist Surrealism established by iconic artists such as Dora Maar, Leonora Carrington, Lee Miller, Frida Kahlo, Leonora Fini, Remedios Varo, Kay Sage, Louise Bourgeois and Francesca Woodman.


Surrealism has historically outlined a path back to mythic structures of matriarchy and universal female principles via its innate inward-looking viewpoint that often unites nature/animal/myth with a political/defiant vision and this is evident in all the works presented for this exhibition. 


Lucille Martin has created a large scale Photo-Media Polyptych Alumalux Work, Jo Darbyshire a grand scale Installation, Toni Wilkinson Print and Photo Media works and Kelsey Ashe, Sculpture and Film Projection.


Dr. Ashe remarks that the exhibition seeks to celebrate the 100 Year Anniversary of Surrealism. “The movement is a philosophy more so than an aesthetic movement, which many don’t realise.  It emerged from Europe in the 1920’s, spreading globally in all artistic mediums and 100 years on its influence and legacy is experiencing unprecedented levels of revisionist attention from, curators, artists and writers, particularly women who have found its strategies for artistic enquiry essential to their practice.“


Dr. Ashe is also the current co-editor for the International Feminist Surrealist Arts Journal ‘The Debutante’ which launched at the National Scottish Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh in January 2020 alongside ‘Beyond Realism | Dada and Surrealism’ with well-known works such as Salvador Dali’s Lobster phone, Rene Magritte’s Nudes and Leonora Carrington’s portrait of  Max Ernst on display. 


Issue 02 of ‘The Debutante’ will be released in time to be available at Imaginary Territories, contextualising the WA Artists within a global movement, reversing the usual North to South Hemisphere 'trickle down' theory and placing WA as the focal point of activity.




'Exquisite Corpse' from the original French term cadavre exquis; a method by which a collection of words or images is collectively assembled. Each collaborator adds to a composition in sequence by being allowed to see only the end of what the previous person contributed.

An opening night performance will involve the ‘birthing’ of a life size ‘exquisite corpse.’    The performance will involve the four artists working on a section of a woman’s body (Head, torso, womb, feet) independently for 3 months, only revealing the body in its entirety for the first time as a Live installation on opening night.  

The piece aims to explore the spirit of the original surrealists’ motivations to access collective consciousness through collaborative making and highlight both individual and collective practice via an insight into the inner worlds, thoughts and imaginings of these artists during an unprecedented era of global upheaval and change.

Assigned by a random ballot: Toni Wilkinson: Head, Lucille Martin: Heart, Jo Darbyshire: Womb, Kelsey Ashe: Feet.


Dark Swan is a not-for-profit WA Artist Group dedicated to producing platforms for WA artists to present new works across a broad range of arts practice, including Visual Art, Written Word, Film, Music, Installation and Performance.

We enjoy collaboration across creative practices and across culture and progressive discussion about
themes in contemporary society.


Dark Swan 2020 'Imaginary Territories' was Financially supported by the WA Government via the Creative Development Grants Program delivered by the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSC).


Dark Swan would sincerely like to thank Michael Fletcher (Sound), Lana Gertral (Film) Tracy Routledge (Media) Bryan Smith, Amber Telfer and Amra Bellatella (Project Assistants), Guilhem Therond, Laure Bernard, Tom Muller (PS Staff) and Aly May (DLGSC) for your assistance and support in making this event happen. 


Imaginary Territories was delivered in Editorial Partnership with The Debutante; Feminist Surrealist Odysseys (UK) with
Editors Molly Gilroy and Rachel Ashenden and Dr. Kelsey Ashe Co-Editor.

Supported by Funding through The Department of Culture and the Arts, Western Australia (DLGSC)

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