Art on this big, bad land

RESILIENCE: Conceptual artist Laura Wilson has created 10 pieces of art for Big Bad Lands. Picture: Melinda McMillan

RESILIENCE: Conceptual artist Laura Wilson has created 10 pieces of art for Big Bad Lands. Picture: Melinda McMillan

WHEN US-born conceptual artist Laura Wilson arrived in Australia in 1992 she wondered what it meant to be Australian. She now believes she knows the answer. 

“I thought more about indigenous people and thought about what everyone has in common when dealing with the landscape,” Wilson said.

“I distilled it down to resilience … and it’s different to any other country that I have seen.

“If there is a flood, say in Queensland, people might shed a tear, but then they say, ‘We just have to get on with it.’

“It reminds me of Ned Kelly and when he was in his last minutes of life he said, ‘Such is life.’”

Wilson will take part in a group show Big Bad Lands at Gallery 139 this month.

“It looks at the harshness of the Australian landscape,” Wilson said.

“I originally come from Colorado, so it’s easier to look at Australia objectively.”

Wilson is exhibiting 10 pieces of work in the show, some of which reference the banksia tree. 

“I thought about what was the most resilient flora, and it’s the banksia,” Wilson said. “Then I looked at bushrangers.

“So I have put the two together and I have bushrangers and banskia.”

In a nod to Sidney Nolan one of the works has an obscure reference to his Ned Kelly series. 

“Sidney Nolan’s work is just beautiful, and it’s iconic and Australians just seem to love his work,” she said.

“It’s a slight nod to him.” 

Wilson’s works also explore Australian tourism. The exhibition will feature a large wall hanging which quotes advice given to tourists about facing-off with “aggressive magpies”, how to deal with an angry kangaroo, redback spiders, venomous snakes, bushfires, crocodiles and sharks. 

Big Bad Lands opens at 2pm on July 22, with the exhibition running from July 20 until August 6. 

The show also features Sally Reynolds, Belinda Street, Libby Cusick, Catherine Grieve, Malcolm Sands, Shelagh Lummis and Gwendoline Lewis. 

Gallery 139 is located at 139 Beaumont Street, Hamilton.