Jake Dennis is an internationally published poet, a jazz, swing, and blues crooner, and a freelance journalist. Visit his website: www.poetofjazz.com and follow him on Facebook www.facebook.com/poetofjazz
Ghostcards from WA
Politically, socially, and emotionally-charged visual art which commands viewers' interest and demands their active participation in creating meaning from the work is far superior to mere decorative, often over-priced, "art" which so often adorns hotel corridors, shopping centres, and apartment lobbies. Ghostcards from WA, a series of socially and politically engaged oil paintings by Western Australian artist Roxanne Fozard, is an exemplary and emotive example of good art that deserves funding, a following, gallery attention, and savvy buyers. This Spectrum Project Space exhibition ends on Friday 31st March with a closing night celebration that runs from 6-8pm. Viewers are welcome to see the exhibition during the gallery's regular opening hours. However, if you want to experience the buzz of an art exhibition while appreciating Fozard's latest work, Friday night's event is ideal for you.
At the heart of the exhibition is the 2008 death of respected Aboriginal elder Ian Ward, which a coronial inquest determined directly resulted from a lack of duty of care on the part of WA's Department of Corrective Services and G4S Prison Transfer Service. Mr Ward was driven nearly 1000km in a van without air-conditioning, collapsed from heatstroke, and presented a temperature of 41 degrees and third degree stomach burns upon hospital admission before passing away. The exhibition's focus painting deals directly with this tragic loss but other equally as powerful works also ask viewers to examine other losses and absences in remote communities of Western Australia. For instance, the emptiness of remote communities once they have been shut down by government and the possibilities of the answer to the blank space in a sign that reads "LOCAL POLICE ARE NOW TARGETTING ________."
Fozard, who grew up in outback WA, firmly believes that "we need to love and respect Aboriginal culture and understand it." Ghostcards from WA contains theoretically informed and technically crafted paintings. The meanings read from them are informed by multiple perspectives: the artist's, the viewer's, and the histories and cultures surrounding the subjects depicted. At the heart of what the paintings communicate are the gaps and misunderstandings between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal cultures and the tragedies that result from this. "There is so much to learn from that community and we seem to be closing a lot more doors than we are opening. It is a lack of understanding between cultures that closes these doors. We need to interact and engage more," Fozard explained in our interview.
Ghostcards from WA deals with serious issues facing our brothers and sisters in the Western Australian outback. These are not ordinary and traditional Australian landscapes. Absent is the realist detailing of a petrol pump or the impressionistic rendering of bushland you might expect in a McCubbin. In their place, oblique representational markers, e.g. a thin dark green line instead of bushy shrubbery. However, Fozard's style is not abstract or minimalist to the egregious extent of moving so far away from her subject that all accessible emotion and meaning is lost. Fozard's style and her approach to this worthwhile and sadly contemporary subject matter make her work comprehensible, interactive, and moving.