The Missing

3 June - 5 July 2011

My art and research practice often involves uncovering and re-presenting historical stories as part of an ongoing project that questions and re-evaluates the impact of the past on our present lives. My work is concerned with developing a visual language to express and engage with conflicting and subsumed histories. A key intention is to invite a viewer to a closer understanding of our continuing roles in, and proximity to unresolved National stories- narratives of memory, time, absence, location and representation.


My works utilise found and constructed objects and techniques from diverse sources including the visual arts, the museum, the library, the shop, the garden and my heritage. Much of my influence and inspiration comes from the people, stories, places, skills of and connections to my maternal Tasmanian Aboriginal heritage. I create work by reusing natural materials and found, often kitsch, objects. I particularly enjoy responding to and reconfiguring natural materials including wood, stone, kelp, bark, shell into narratives that relate their original environment and my own and ancestors' encounters, actions and traces in these places with these same types of materials.


One of my common methodologies is to arrange multiple objects to activate a surface optically, to encourage a viewer to read it as a means of temporarily holding the objects in place to find themselves part of the work. Art works comprising multiple objects are experiments in understanding how viewers can travel around a work and in this process move their position back and forth, flickering between past and present, and hopefully, personal and national memory.


Most of my works incorporate ideas of movement or stasis either technically or in the story that they may be partially relating to the viewer. This suggestion of waiting or of motion intends to summon an onlooker to enter into the work as a timekeeper. This is anxious position where many materials inviting curiosity, initially implying the humorous, accrue a sinister edge as a viewer reaches a point of understanding his/her caged predicament within the work.


These art works are investigations evolving from personal considerations of the place of memory, forgetting, loss, denial and the potency of the past within my own family. Increasingly evident is the use of open narrative to decipher self in the process of relating the past. Each work has been built from the outcomes of the last, and represents a claiming within a larger consideration of ways to personally invoke and involve nation, viewer and self in acknowledging our entangled histories.


Julie Gough
June 2011