UWA’s Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery reopens…

Andrew Nicholls, The Four Seasons: Spring
Andrew Nicholls, The Four Seasons: Spring(detail of work in progress), 2019-2020, ink pen on watercolour paper, 114 x 140 cm (detail). Image courtesy the artist.

The Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery at The University of Western Australia has announced it will reopen on Saturday 29 August with the premiere of two new major exhibitions exploring queer history and culture. 

HERE&NOW20: Perfectly Queer is a showcase of new work by eight multidisciplinary queer artists from Western Australia, and A Sorrowful Act: The Wreck of the Zeewijk is an examination of the first recorded moment in European queer history in Australia by artist Drew Pettifer.

Curated by Perth-based artist and emerging curator Brent Harrison, HERE&NOW20: Perfectly Queer will examine the ways that queer artists draw on history and their own lived experiences to create artwork that reflects on what it means to be queer. 

It will feature work by a diverse group of contemporary artists including Benjamin Bannan, Nathan Beard, Janet Carter, Lill Colgan, Jo Darbyshire, Brontë Jones, Andrew Nicholls and Colin Smith. 

The exhibition is part of the Gallery’s annual HERE&NOW series, which is devoted to showcasing contemporary art practice in Western Australia and is curated by each year by an emerging curator, appointed to offer fresh insight and perspective on the field. 

Curator Brent Harrison said the exhibition was a wonderful opportunity to contribute to the professional practice of local queer artists.

“In addition to supporting local queer artists, the exhibition will also open a dialogue with Perth communities about the experiences of queer people and the issues we face,” Mr Harrison said.

A Sorrowful Act: The Wreck of the Zeewijk is a new solo exhibition by Victorian artist and academic Drew Pettifer that focuses on the 1727 sodomy trial following the shipwreck of the Zeewijk off the coast of Western Australia in the Albrolhos.

Nathan Beard, Limp Wristed Sculpture
Nathan Beard, Limp Wristed Sculpture, 2020, silicon, resin, hand-stitched cotton, found objects, installation size variable. Image courtesy the artist.

Arguably the first recorded moment in European queer history in Australia, the trial resulted in the sentencing of two young ship’s mates to death by marooning on separate nearby islands.

Artist Drew Pettifer said that examining the trial and events surrounding it offered the opportunity to explore the relationship between history and the present day.

“History is always constructed in the present moment through the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. Revealing alternative histories allows us to rethink our present and imagine new futures,” Dr Pettifer said.

The exhibition builds on a broader investigation within Pettifer’s work that explores hidden queer histories through archival art practices. It will feature new work in photography, video, audio and installation.

Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery Director Professor Ted Snell said the upcoming season of exhibitions would shine a light on important and timely issues.  

“We are delighted to be presenting such a rich program that will allow us to explore in-depth some of these issues with our audiences and to continue to support the excellent work of contemporary Australian artists,’ Professor Snell said.

HERE&NOW20 and A Sorrowful Act will remain on show until 5 December 2020. From 29 August, visitors to the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery will also have the opportunity to view (Un)ladylike Acts: Recent Acquisitions from the Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art and Boomerang – A National Symbol, presented by the Berndt Museum of Anthropology. 

For more information, including opening hours and a full list of accompanying programs, visit the LWAG website