MELBOURNE, Australia––Multi-disciplinary artist Barry Tate’s latest solo exhibition This is Colony at Fox Galleries (November 4 – December 10, 2017) featured Rococo Revival-esque ceramic vessels which the artist masterfully subverted into ornamental consequences of 18th century colonialism and globalization, the gallery explains.
The grape recurs across the pieces as a resonant symbol, used in Ancient Greek art to indicate the advancement of society through cultivation and trade, and as a central feature of still life studies across Western painting, which developed in tandem with the reduction of agricultural labour.
With the non-native fruit spilling out from the tops, each pillar becomes a cornucopia representing the great abundance of the land, or a trophy for the advancement of civilization.
Featured image: Barry Tate, This is Colony II (detail), 2017, Glazed earthenware, ceramic on pedestal with lights, 140 x 55 x 55 cm
Tate’s totemic works speak to the complexities of contemporary, postcolonial Australia. They compel viewers to question who is enjoying these fruits of labor in the former penal colony, and how long it will be until economic bubble bursts, the gallery adds.
Tate trained in and employs Japanese ceramic practices in his artistic process infusing Shinto philosophy and Indigenous Australian understanding of Country.
“A person’s land, sea, sky, rivers, sites, seasons, plants and animals; place of heritage, belonging and spirituality.” ––Tate
He is a finalist in the 2018 Western Sydney University Sculpture Awards and Exhibition (May 4 – June 3, 2018) exhibiting a sculptural installation, which is a continuation of this body of work.
The following video is a short documentary which follows Tate’s exhibition, shedding light on his methodology and physicality.
Go inside the artist’s studio and hear from Tate himself about his practice, themes, influences and inspiration.
About the artist: Tate is a Warrnambool-based artist and beloved arts educator whose practice spans over three decades of prolific production contemplating systems of belief, the propaganda art of the church, tragedy and the apocalypse. Ranging from clay, glitter, gold, fiber optics, spray paint, lights and electric motors no material has been out of bounds in Tate’s playful investigation of fear and faith. Tate has been a finalist for the Blake Prize and has shown at Fox Galleries and Wolloongabba Galleries in Brisbane and Charles Nodrum Gallery, Place Gallery and Fusions Gallery in Melbourne.
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