March 24, 2017

Xeno Eucalyptus 2009

This lens-based series, Xeno Eucalyptus (2009) offers a reassessment of a significant historical perspective by reframing the British colonial gaze of the Australian landscape. In the first 100 years of the British colonisation of Australia, writers and artists were unable to perceive or describe the landscape on its own terms.  They often portrayed it as disturbing and un-picturesque whilst expressing nostalgia for their ‘Arcadian’ homeland. Paintings by early colonial artists such as Conrad Martens for example resemble European landscapes more than they do Australian ones.

Andrew created this series whilst living in Britain. His objective was to reframe the ‘colonial gaze’ by viewing the British landscape through the lens or ‘aperture’ of an Australian eucalyptus forest.  This was achieved by superimposing those elements which colonialists found disturbing, such as the peeling bark of a gum tree and their twisted ‘anthropomorphic’ limbs on to picturesque photographs of British landscapes. The omnipresent eucalyptus is a powerful symbol of the Australian landscape and its presence in the British landscape is discomforting.

The aesthetics of the series depict a fabricated and montaged world, which is super-real and even surreal. Two different 19th century aesthetic traditions are bought together into the same frame, that being the sublime and foreboding Australian landscape alongside the romantic and picturesque British tradition.  The series was first exhibited at Edinburgh University in 2010. It has also been exhibited at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre