The Great Southern Heavens

This is a major new work I've created for a show at the Goulburn Art Gallery in December 2011. The work's based on traditional star catalogues in which the outlines of mythological creatures were fitted to the patterns of stars in the sky, creating the constellations we are familiar with today. Later when Western explorers mapped the parts of the Southern sky not visible from Europe, some of the constellations they chose were more contemporary such as Microscopium (the Microscope) and Pyxis (The Mariner’s Compass). This work extends that concept to the present day by creating entirely new constellations based on elements of our modern world and fitting them to the real stars of the Southern sky.

It's a sort of a reflection of the world below which aims to simply illustrate the modern world, not to judge it. It encompasses the good, Miraculous Curem (The Antibiotic), the bad Servus Obscurum (The Invisible Slave) along with many concepts who’s value or lack thereof, is entirely dependent on the outlook of the viewer.

The great southern heavens

The great southern heavens

The great southern heavens

This is one of my personal favourite parts of the work, the mobile phone girl. It was inspired by a visit to Blists Hill Victorian Town Museum in the UK. A father was taking his daughter around the museum showing her some awesome things like giant steam engines, a working Victorian foundry in which molten iron was being poured etc, etc. And the whole time she did nothing but play with her mobile phone. This seemed like a symptom of the times so I incorporated her into the border together with an unfortunate angel doing her damndest to inspire the girl to lift her eyes beyond the screen.

The great southern heavens

The great southern heavens

This constellation was inspired by a story I read about workers at a factory in Asia throwing themselves from the roof in preference to spending another day in the monotonous oppressive "battery chicken" environment of the Western owned factory. Great set up if you like cheap goods - and I'm as guilty as any of us of buying such things - but it must be a horrible life for the people who have to make them. Reminds me of the British workhouses where poor people had the choice to either labour long unpaid hours for food or starve. But in some ways it's worse because these people are out of sight and out of mind.

The great southern heavens

There's actually a maccers right round the corner from the gallery where I often have lunch if I'm heading through Goulburn on my way to Sydney. Again good or bad? Depends on your point of view.

The great southern heavens

The great southern heavens

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