Artspace exhibition to tour nationally

Published: 26 Aug 2019

Violent Salt is a thought-provoking exhibition that gives a voice to marginalised, underrepresented and silenced Australians.

It is on display in Artspace Mackay’s FIELD Engineers Gallery from this Friday (August 30) to November 24.

Cr Fran Mann said Violent Salt was particularly exciting for Mackay as it was an exhibition presented by Artspace Mackay that would go on to tour the country.

“We’ve presented touring exhibitions before, but this is our first for a decade,” Cr Mann said.

“This exhibition will gain recognition for Artspace Mackay on the national gallery circuit,” she said. “It also allows us to showcase some of the world-class contemporary Indigenous artworks in our collection.”

“And, of course, locals get to experience this fascinating body of work first, before it goes on tour.”

Cr Mann said Violent Salt got its name from a powerful line by Australian author, academic and activist Tony Birch – “Any dictatorship worth its violent salt executes the poets first”.

“This exhibition aims to turn that notion on its head – it’s all about giving a voice, through art, to those Australians with diverse cultural heritage.

“It invites artists to speak their truths about their experiences and offers an opportunity for understanding and connection, whilst seeking to celebrate and honour Australia’s unique multiculturalism and landscape.”

The featured artists in Violent Salt are Abdul Abdullah (NSW), Vernon Ah Kee (QLD), Richard Bell (QLD), Daniel Boyd (NSW), Megan Cope (QLD), Karla Dickens (NSW), S. J. Norman (VIC) Yhonnie Scarce (VIC/SA) and Jemima Wyman (QLD).

Standout works include Bone Library by S.J. Norman in which words from Australian Aboriginal languages which have been classified as ‘extinct’ have been engraved into the bones of sheep and beef cattle.

There’s also a newly commissioned work by Vernon Ah Kee featuring riot shields evoking the conflict and violence of land rights rallies.

This work reflects on the racially motivated killing of a young man whose body was dragged behind a ute.

Co-curated by Yhonnie Scarce and Claire Watson, the exhibition discusses issues surrounding racism and discrimination against First Nations peoples and minority groups as well as the lack of respect for, and desecration of, culture and the natural environment.

Yhonnie Scarce said, as a First Nations artist, belonging to the Kokatha and Nukunu peoples, she has experienced racism, discrimination, marginalisation and disadvantage.

“While I was researching this exhibition, one of the First Nations artists declared that ‘all my life, I felt invisible’,” she said.

“It is precisely this experience of being silenced and ignored as a member of society that this exhibition seeks to explore, not only for First Nations peoples but for other minority groups in Australia.

“The exhibition actively seeks to create a sense of social inclusion as well as discuss the treatment of the environment and the need to care for the land – which is of great concern to many First Nations people.”

Claire Watson said the narratives within this exhibition are designed to stimulate discussion.

“There’s a community participation wall where the audience is invited to share their personal hopes for an Australia free of discrimination,” Ms Watson said.

“The urgency for the Australian community to discuss these important issues and truths cannot be stressed enough.

“Australia needs to celebrate diversity and people of all backgrounds.”

Exhibition Opening

Date: Friday, August 30, 2019
Time: 6pm

Free Exhibition Floor Talk

With exhibition curators, Yhonnie Scarce and Claire Watson
Date: Saturday, August 31
Time: 10.30am

This event will be Auslan interpreted.

Violent Salt has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body and supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland.