From The Curator
This installation considers warning, empathy and grief for animals and country amidst climate change, with a focus on the recent catastrophic floods of Fitzroy Crossing, Western Australia. There are several elements to the work, paintings on canvas, wallpaper, neon designs that reference cultural motif, painted Kangaroo skins and an installation of fake flowers with neon spirit guides on either side. High Country is centered on the connection between animal guides and the effect of disastrous Australian weather events on community and country. This work reflects on the relational link between grief for animals affected, the mortuary process of leaving artificial flowers on the graves of loved ones within the artist's community and a lament for the current climate events occurring.
Walmajarri knowledge structures underpin the make-up of John Prince Siddons country and are a place to retreat in times of crisis. The weaving of his cosmology and kitsch tropes of Australia are significant to Prince’s practice and the desert iconography embedded throughout the newly commissioned works, is the anchor that links all elements together and a deep reflection on life from within a natural disaster. Death, rebirth through plants and animals and the spirit world connect together.
“Coogod Man & Woman (Minmin Light) are trying to say “Don’t come to this country. This is my country, get outta here. This my spirit, I’m living here. Go away. Oot oot!” It’s sad to carry on when the fire and flood are coming. He yelling them, warning them. He whisper to them, singing to them “Get outta here!
When the sound come for wet, water is flowing, he got no time for anybody. The insects and all the animals, all the babies they won’t have time to make a safe place when that flood come and destroy everything. All those baby birds in the nest. It will destroy everything. Joey won’t get a chance to hop away from the flood. The koala, he climb a tree but the water follow them higher and higher. There’ll be no escape from water, follow them higher and higher. There’ll be no escape for any animal. Adults will leave those joey and small animal behind. This is the flower pattern. Art pattern from flower just to remind me what flood and fire do to our land.
Barranah – hot season, when fire start even through wet season, from lightning. One little fire can destroy everything. All our animal from young, even insect. There’s no weather to be good. Wet season can light a fire and hot season same. My idea is trying to put everything in my mind I feel sorry for. Animals and insects during wet and dry season. The animals they start talking. They would let us know if there fire or flood, but no sound. Fire or flood, they come sudden. Nature come sudden.
There are Mobs of good flowers everywhere around the world. To me, I'm trying to do something different - look at the flowers. Sometimes we get flowers to give to a woman to win her heart. Most flowers we use for funeral to put on top of loved one's graves. I want to decorate with flowers just like I do with paintings- try to do both. This has been my dream to incorporate flowers and neon lights - pretty things all together to make it happen. The world can see it to believe it."
High Country is a vivid installation in a contained room of approximately 4 meters by 5 meters square. There are two doors to walk through on either side and the walls are covered in a wallpaper made from images of blue water and kangaroos of John Prince Siddons paintings. On the front wall there is a neon light design in red that depicts three circles with a linear line that runs through on a vertical.
The installation features two large painted canvases, one focusing on the flooding of Fitzroy crossing and has lots of blue colour in it. The perspective is from above in some sections, a bird's eye view of the flooded river and next to it there is concentric circles in red, blue and pink with a depiction of a cow also on it. There are dots on paintings that are Walmajarri designs and text that says, ‘Kimberly SOS rescue Chopper Broome’. The second painting looks at fire and flood and has more reds, oranges and yellows on it. There are animals in one section painted that are ants, cattle, small birds and koalas and there are people in a boat holding a sign that has dot paintings on it.
These paintings are across from each other and approximately 4 meters apart. Between them on the wall is a map of Australia with red, white and black flowers. They are in a design that is similar to the neon design on the front of the wall as you enter. On either side of the map of Australia is a spirit man that has a human top half and fish tail and carrying boomerangs in each hand in a clapping motion, and a woman, with a human top half and hoofed feet carrying a digging stick. These are in a glowing green neon light. On the opposite wall there are three painted Kangaroo skins with a circular design similar to the neon.
High Country (2023)
John Prince Siddon (Walmajarri)
Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency
Project support | Emilia Galatis Projects
Cow Skull Fabrication | Headus 3D
LED Neon Fabrication | Electric Confetti
Freight supported by Wesfarmers Arts