“This body of work takes as its starting point a small 19th century landscape painting by a little known convict artist, George Peacock, which depicts a view along Sydney Harbour. While undertaking initial research I was drawn to this painting because it appeared to bracket the marks of colonisation, economy and trade between the ship masts, soldiers and emerging harbour-based city. This image offered potential to negotiate thoughts on the contemporary manifestations of these concerns, through the lens of Australian history.
“I was especially interested in mapping the territory between historic colonialism, as seen in the British ‘settlement’ of Australia, with it’s hierarchies of power, control of trade, assumptions of ownership and abuse of authority, to contemporary acts of economic colonialism undertaken by global corporations operating within Australia.
“In my research I also wanted to test the notion that ‘extractive economies’ (used in describing nations with mining and oil/gas industries) is in fact another version of colonialism. The series of work is titled Profiteer Chic – a tongue-in-cheek riff on this line, as is the material collision of of fake naval telescopes, oval picture frames with mini disco balls, glass beads and black rooster feathers in the works.
“I see this body of work partly as a process of mapping of the terrain I’ve described above, and partly as a means of testing the proposition. It is equally, though, a small act of resistance. I am deeply concerned by the environmental and economic vandalism surrounding the Adani mine development, the ease with which corporations such as BHP, Chevron, Exxon, Shell and others minimise tax and mineral royalty payment in Australia, and political unwillingness to put future generations ahead of extractive multinational corporations” – Penelope Cain