Dr. Kelsey Ashe
HERENOW23: In-Between-ness FRINGEWORLD PERTH @ ECU Galleries
Exhibition duration from 1st February to 30th March at ECU Galleries; Spectrum Project Space
Curated by Dr. Harrison See with support from Professor Ted Snell, 'HERENOW23; In-between-ness' is an exhibition featuring 10 artists critically engaged in Inter-cultural arts practice.
"A snap shot of current visual arts practice in Perth, right here, right now! (Snell, 2023)
The exhibition and curator Dr. See, asks each artist to explore their relationships to land and culture and to ask themselves:
"From where does culture emerge (and reside) in a multi-cultural, yet tension filled, Australia?
Image: ‘Land of a thousand Myths’, 2023. (Detail). Wax etched drawings printed as Unique State Screen-Print on Canvas. Photo-luminscent Paste (Glows in the Dark) Indigo, Chlorophyll, Henna and Saffron Botanical inks, wax. Mounted on wood.
6.5mW x 2mH x 4cmD
As recognised by Dr. See in his curatorial statement, there may not be a clear answer and certainly each individual artist will respond in vastly different ways. Dr. See selected artists that are based on Noongyar Boodja, who have considered cultural hybridity and/or cultural identity as key sources for artistic production. Where is home and where do we belong? How do we understand transplanted culture? Cultural difference, cultural exchange and collision have occurred from time immemorial across the globe, but how do we navigate that as artists and as citizens, right now?
Dr. See has raised timely and considered questions within this exhibition that reflect the uncomfortable, (yet necessary) ‘tension filled’ zeitgeist Australia and other colonised nations are undergoing. How artists navigate de-colonising art practice and the negotiation of cultural difference is a repeated theme throughout the exhibition, as is the search for a sense of belonging in a multicultural land.
Fully aware of the privilege and authority as curator, Dr. See is mindful of allowing artistic dialogue around these themes to be heard as the artists intended. “There is no simple or finite solution to negotiating the complexities of cultural difference” (See, 2023) what he provides instead is a think-tank of respectful dialogue to tease out the divergent perspectives from artists who “collectively draw on lived experiences spanning 5 continents” and dozens of countries.
My own work for this exhibition continued along themes of looking to ‘deep time’ as a method of circumnavigating or ‘spiralling above and away’ to see a longer view of time, a kind of colonial intervention. A somewhat Utopian vision in my Screen Print ‘Land of a thousand myths’ presents a world that appears to be drawn from multiple continents and countries and could be the past or the future. Upon closer inspection motifs such as burning cliffs reveal strange cindering objects that might be trees, or are they ships masts? Or Crucifixes? I intend that these ‘readings’ are all correct; a gentle and open ended way to critique and disrupt colonial conditioning. Drawing from my own inter-cultural experience, I reflect on the way that we look to the landscape for ‘home’ and 'belonging' and how that ‘home’ can sometimes be many places at once. To resolve the constant conflict of this hybridity, I look to my imagination, to provide a landscape that is an Everywhen, an Everyplace, such as one might find in dreams.
2023 Herenow Artists: Patricia Amorim, Kelsey Ashe, Yvette Dunn-Moses, Marcia Espinosa, Shanti Gelmi, Sue Leeming, Desmond Mah, Leonie Ngahuia Mansbridge, Matthew McAlpine and Lea Taylor.
My full catalogue statement for ECU Galleries:
Kelsey Ashe - Artist Statement
“…..In dreams, landscapes and cultures of past and present collapse into one. It is both the deepest future and the deepest past at once. Time is fluid in all directions…I fly over snaking streams of a Tasmanian gully creek, then suddenly plunge a waterfall and land in tropical forests…lagoons of Tahiti. But the high green mountains of snow are looming! Polynesia, Aotearoa, Japan, Australia in Gondwana…All one. Fluid, sublime and instant…The stars dance for me in clusters, it is a marvel! I hover out with the planets….Then wake here, Fremantle, Western Australia…How did I get here? Where am I going?....”
What constitutes a contemporary ‘Australian’ cross-cultural identity is surveyed through my own Celtic convict and migratory ancestry and from the Austral-Asian basin I call ‘home’; the vast land mass of Australia to Tasmania, across to Polynesia and Aotearoa (New Zealand) and to Japan, where family ties have left deep imprints. I also include my imagined, albeit broken and fragmented, ties to the lands of my DNA by mythically transposing Scotland, Ireland and the Faroe Islands into this voyage of cross-cultural influence.
Cultural hybridity creates an exchange point in which some things can be lost and traumatically broken, but so too, can new rich and wonderous things be formed. I draw specifically on Japanese aesthetic philosophy and print making techniques, and to the concept of ‘deep-time’ to add further complexity and/or disruption to a ‘place’ that is both a dystopia and utopia at once.
Kelsey Ashe, ‘Land of a thousand Myths’, 2023. (Detail). Wax etched drawings printed as Unique State Screen-Print on Canvas. Photoluminscent Paste (Glows in the Dark) Indigo, Chlorophyll, Henna and Saffron Botanical inks, wax. Mounted on wood.
6.5mW x 2mH x 4cmD