Bedazzle: Photographing Western Australia’s Gold Towns
Opening at the Goldfields Arts Centre on Friday 3rd March.
Bedazzle catalogue available for download here.
Western Australia’s iconic gold mining towns are the inspiration for FORM’s latest exhibition Bedazzle – Photographing Western Australia’s Gold Towns, a compelling and darkly humorous exploration of the regional gothic. Bedazzle takes the State’s gold rush as a point of departure for new contemporary art by three leading Western Australian artists, developed through residencies in the Pilbara and Goldfields-Esperance regions during 2015 and 2016.
FORM invited Thea Costantino, Rebecca Dagnall, and Tarryn Gill to create works capturing some of Western Australia’s most haunting remote landscapes and drawing on the State’s evocative gold rush past as part of its annual regional residency program. The artists explore the legacy of the first of Western Australia’s many mining industry booms. For this they worked in Western Australia’s hottest town, Marble Bar, the iconic gold town of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, the eerie ghost town of Gwalia, and the mining communities of Kambalda, Menzies, and Coolgardie.
Costantino, Dagnall, and Gill use the photographic medium to explore and critique Australian nationalism and post-colonial history. For this exhibition the artists have woven a series of darkly humorous narratives around the notion of a culture obsessed with wealth from the ground.
FORM’s residency program offers artists the opportunity to explore new conceptual ground while sharing their well-established skills with communities. The three Bedazzle artists delivered workshop programming to regional participants while developing their work during the various project field trips.
The project began in Marble Bar, 1,500 km north of Perth, in March 2015. A mining community boasting a population of 5,000 at the height of the 1890s gold rush, it has dwindled to fewer than 200 residents today but remains rich in local folklore and idiosyncratic myth. It became known as Australia’s hottest town following its unsurpassed world record heat wave of 160 days over 37.8 °C during the summer of 1923-1924. This exhibition takes its name from the 413 oz gold nugget ‘Bobby Dazzler’, one of a number of sizeable gold nuggets discovered in Marble Bar during the 1890s.
Further residencies took place in the Goldfields-Esperance region in early 2016 at the invitation of the Goldfields Arts Centre.
FORM’s residency and exhibition program commissions new works that articulate the unique identities of the State’s diverse communities and landscapes, and draw inspiration from our State’s history. Bedazzle has grown directly from 10 years of engagement with communities in the Pilbara, and a series of significant projects in the Goldfields-Esperance region since the 1980s.
Dr. Thea Costantino’s art practice encompasses drawing, sculpture, video, animation, photography and costume design, written works of fiction and non-fiction, musical theatre librettos and plays, and curatorial projects. She has exhibited and undertaken residency projects across Australia, Europe and the United States both in a solo capacity and collaboratively, as part of artist collective Hold Your Horses. She works in the school of design and art at Curtin University.
Costantino’s artwork investigates cultural memory; the remembrance of the past and how it can be re-envisioned with reference to marginalised aspects of the historical record. Most recently she has focused on the history of Australian colonialism and the complicity of women under the British Empire. She is known for her deft graphite drawings and the trademark use of wax to create uncanny sculptural forms that are sometimes also the subjects of photographic works.
Rebecca Dagnall is a photographic artist, a current PHD candidate at RMIT University, Melbourne, and a lecturer at Curtin University of Technology, Perth. She was raised in the suburbs of Perth, and the iconography of Western Australian suburbia has been a major influence on her art practice. In recent years she has expanded her focus to explore narratives of anxiety within the Australian bush.
Tarryn Gill is a multidisciplinary artist from Perth, Western Australia. As a solo artist and through her collaborations with Pilar Mata Dupont and production company Hold Your Horses, she has exhibited works and undertaken residency projects across Australia, Argentina, France, Germany, Portugal, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and Japan. Notably, she has shown work at the Akademie der Kunste, Berlin; in the the 17th Biennale of Sydney, 2010; at the Art Gallery of Western Australia; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography; the Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane; and at the Centre Pompidou, Paris and Art Basel, Miami as part of the A Shaded View on Fashion Film Festival 4.