2010 Acquisitions

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Mary Clifton

born 1822 England

died 1893 Australind, Western Australia

worked south-west Western Australia

This vivid and lively pencil sketch is an intimate and genuine attempt by Mary Clifton to faithfully record her new surroundings through close and considered observation. It is remarkable in that it is part of the extremely small and rare holdings of Western Australian landscape colonial art in the State Art Collection produced by women. Clifton’s family had arrived in Western Australia in March 1841 in order for Marshall Waller Clifton to take charge of a land scheme developed in Australind, near present day Bunbury, to encourage investment and settlers.

Clifton’s sensitivity to the scene is present in the detail of the foliage, gnarly trees, huts and
tents, the slight sagging of the centre tent, as well as in her attentiveness to shading and perspective. Although the new country brought many challenges for this English gentlewoman, Clifton chose to capture her intimate surroundings in charming detail, which is echoed in words by her sister Louisa who wrote in her diary soon after their family’s arrival, ‘The appearance of the camp struck us much; the tents distributed under large spreading trees, a hill covered with wood and bush rising behind. I never saw such a more picturesque scene.’

View of the Commissioner's cottage in Koombana Gardens was generously donated by a descendant of the family with two other pencil sketches by Clifton’s sister, Louisa and, as a group, is a significant addition to the Collection. Not only do they illustrate the development of the visual arts in the colony through the eyes of women, but they also provide an important link between the pre-settlement pieces in the State Art Collection, including watercolours by Isaac Nind and Frederick Garling, and later colonial works by artists such as Edmund Henderson, Horace Samson and James Walsh.

Mary Clifton View of the Commissioner's cottage in Koombana Gardens 1841
Mary Clifton View of the Commissioner's cottage in Koombana Gardens 1841. Pencil, 19.5 x 27.0 cm (sight). State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia. Gift of Mr Robert D Keall, great, great, great nephew of Mary Clifton, 2010.

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Tarryn Gill & Pilar Mata Dupont

both born 1981 Perth, Australia

work Perth


With backgrounds in dance and music theatre, Tarryn Gill and Pilar Mata Dupont have worked together since 2001 in a practice that encompasses photography, performance, film, installation, choreography, theatre and design to re-imagine history from a feminised perspective. Both fascinated by past eras, Gill and Mata Dupont developed a highly stylised visual language through their series of works called the Heart of Gold projects from 2004-2008, to critique histories of nationalism and explore gender politics.

This photographic work, Bride of the north 2009, featuring a young bride in a lake, references the hopes, dreams and implicit darkness of suburban development/settlement. It joins a small but vital group of works in the State Art collection exploring the history and ideology of Western Australian suburbia. Historically, the work connects back to the highly ambivalent visual statement about the official beginnings of the Perth colony, in George Pitt Morison’s painting, The foundation of Perth, 1829.

This photographic work is staged at Perth’s Lake Joondalup and features a professional actor (the first time the artists have used a professional participant) taking the part of a latter-day Ophelia. Lake Joondalup is one an important series of lakes fed by the northern ground water mound. These lakes are increasingly endangered by the pulling of the water for drinking and watering lawns for the new developments that have steadily sprung up around them. Within this ecological context, the doomed bride image represents a form of Australian gothic, a dark vision that shadows the sunny homes and town site of the real life region.

Tarryn Gill and Pilar Mata Dupont Bride of the north, 2009

Tarryn Gill and Pilar Mata Dupont Bride of the north, 2009. Ink jet print, 128 x 174 x 45 cm (frame). State Art Collection, Art Gallery of

Western Australia. Purchased through the TomorrowFund, Art Gallery of Western Australia Foundation, 2010.

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Therese Howard

born 1960 Perth, Australia

works Perth

Therese Howard’s What’s your poison? looks at the hierarchy and interplay of materiality through the guise of obsession and addiction. The monkey on the back of the rat signifies addiction to wealth, opulence and, perhaps, art itself. Within this, the diamond skull is a direct reference to Damien Hirst’s famous life-size diamond skull. As such, it explores how wealth and art might be lusted after at the cost of our general well-being. It implies that art isn’t always benign, that it can be caught within the corrupting sphere of greed and avarice. It does this in a lightly humorous way, and through the employment of great technical skill and material finesse.

Therese Howard What's your poison? 2009.
Therese Howard What's your poison? 2009. Bronze, sterling silver, 18ct gold, 115 diamonds, marble, wire and rat whiskers, 21 x 16 x 23.5 cm. State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia. Purchased through the TomorrowFund, Art Gallery of Western Australia Foundation, 2010.

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Graham Miller

born 1966 Hong Kong

works Perth

Inspired by the tone of the late American poet and short story master, Raymond Carver, Graham Miller produces quiet, melancholic portraits of people and places. Miller is also strongly influenced by the American narrative mode of photographic production as evidenced in work by Robert Frank and, more obliquely, Stephen Shore. These small postcard works were commissioned and distributed by the American outfit Abe’s Penny. They feature images made in the United States and continue Miller’s interest in constructing small vignettes in which people seem on the verge of tipping into a new life. As such, the sensibility he has established in his Perth work, perfectly maps onto the American scene. Accompanying the images are small texts by Kirsty Logan that open up the implied narratives in Miller’s photographs.

Graham Miller abe's penny: a micro magazine (issue 1) 2010.
Graham Miller abe's penny: a micro magazine (issue 1) 2010. Postcard, 10.2 x 15.3 cm. State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia.
Gift of the Artist, 2010
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Graham Miller abe's penny: a micro magazine (issue 2)
Graham Miller abe's penny: a micro magazine (issue 2) 2010. Postcard, 10.2 x 15.3 cm. State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia.
Gift of the Artist, 2010


Graham Miller abe's penny: a micro magazine (issue 3) 2010
Graham Miller abe's penny: a micro magazine (issue 3) 2010. Postcard, 10.2 x 15.3 cm. State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia.
Gift of the Artist, 2010

Graham Miller abe's penny: a micro magazine (issue 4) 2010
Graham Miller
abe's penny: a micro magazine (issue 4) 2010. Postcard, 10.2 x 15.3 cm. State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia.
Gift of the Artist, 2010

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