‘Water’ explores the vital element which sustains all life on Earth. From major immersive experiences to smaller-scale treasures by Australian and international artists, the exhibition will highlight this precious resource and spark conversations about the environmental and social challenges we face today.
Megan Cope’s work RE FORMATION (Noogoon/St Helena), 2019, takes the form of a midden, mimicking the mounds of discarded organic matter that accumulated in Aboriginal communities. During Australia’s early colonial period, Europeans used these middens as a source of lime, which they burnt to create mortar for buildings.
Cope thinks of middens as a form of ‘Aboriginal architecture’. They are man-made structures that trace a record of occupation and culture over many centuries, debunking the colonial claim that Australia was terra nullius, or unoccupied territory.
In RE FORMATION (Noogoon/St Helena) 2019, thousands of hand-cast shells are arranged in a bed of copper slag, a by-product of copper extraction. Together, they connect the historical and continuing decimation of sacred sits by mining and other commercial activities.
Purchased 2019 with funds from the Contemporary Patrons through the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation. Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art.
Photography: N. Harth, QAGOMA