Colonial history can be viewed as a series of frontier encounters based around extractive economies. How are these economies – social, commercial, creative and political – reflected in art? This exhibition of new and existing works explores both the artistic heritage and contemporary manifestations of the act of ‘digging’ in former and current mining towns. What is found and what is lost in the process of excavation? Taking mining as a metaphor, the artists represented in this exhibition (from places geographically and culturally diverse across Australia including Yirrkala, Northern Territory, Castlemaine, Victoria, and New Guinea) explore multiple themes implicit in the act of mineral exploration and exploitation: scarring, layering, excavating, prospecting, exchange, power, custody, resources, home, land, destruction and renewal. I presented plein-air lanscape paintings of mining landscapes from Central Victoria toward this show, as a recognition of the place where we are - we can't love, honor, nor respect that which we don't know intimately. Commonly, (and lazily) criticized as an exercise in upholding dominant views, plein air isn't merely reducible to sneering text, (who has the better view now?) but actively, practically, a medicine for the hands and eye.
Chris Barker, Mt Alexander Granite, Oil On Linen, 2014,
Chris Barker, Colles Road Disused Quarry, Oil On Linen, 2012,
Chris Barker, Toward Tarrengower, Oil On Linen, 2015,