2016 Program pt 2

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Cinders & Sympathies

Cinders & Sympathies

Willurai Kirkbright

Opening 06.07.16 6-8pm
Artist Talks 28.08.16 6-7pm

Step into a typical proud Aussi household, only this one is reclaimed, deconstructed and decolonised.

This exhibition takes the viewer to the bottom of the vegemite the things that lurk in the Australian psyche and shape our preconceptions. It takes a good hard look at our interconnected histories and how we relate to them. The Artist questions white guilt as an act of distancing and becoming non accountable.

Cinders and Sympathies unveils truths about the war waged against Indigenous people in this the ‘lucky country’. It pays homage to the many human remains that are still yet to return home. It plays with themes of ‘reverse racism’, black rage and revenge fantasy. The heavy content dealt with in a playful but honest way.

Using photography, installation, performance, video and interactive art Kirkbright takes the colonial images that have in many ways forcibly defined her and flips them on their head. Dissolving and reshaping them. Questioning their ongoing effect on us all. Brazen works that examine representations of people of colour with in western culture. The impact this has on the artist’s personal image and that of her people. Works that challenge those representations. Works that challenge entitlement to and treatment of black bodies and landscapes. How history is packaged and taught, how ignorance is passed on through unchanging, untrue depictions. The resulting rigid perception of what an Aboriginal person is meant to be. The reinforced image of someone who belongs in the far away past not the present. Being pigeon holed and treated as a mythical spectacle contributes to oppression.

Kirkbright takes an unapologetic look at how this effects the way her work is received. Opening a crucial conversation about the catch 22 of Aboriginal identity being sellable as Artists but also problematic, damaging and limiting. The viewer is asked to question their personal relationship with history, heritage and current Aboriginal issues. As well as their own concept of Indigenous Art.

Identity and skin is a cultural commodity that comes with all the Cinders and Sympathies.


Willurai Kirkbright is a Wiradjuri woman who lives in the Blue Mountains and has tribal roots in Northern NSW. A practicing multi discipline artist with a broad range her work is untamed and honest. Growing up half in the city and half in the bush, carrying the blood of both the invaders and the invaded she knows all to well the complexes of living in two worlds.
This is a theme she has explored through out her career. She believes in Art as activism and change through breaking conventions as well as community engagement. Primarily a contemporary artist but often juxtaposes traditional and modern art forms as well as notions of outsider art/craft. Always pushing to expand the idea of what art can be. Two solo exhibitions, over a dozen group shows and over 50 major creative projects she lives for art.

She has established, ran and curated 3 different art spaces in Sydney and has been heavily involved community work involving art as a tool for social change.

Kirkbright is an educator and facilitator, focusing on educating and empowering disadvantaged minorities and Aboriginal people. Using mediums such as installation, multi media and performance she delves into the uncomfortable and essential corners of the human psyche. Her work is always concept based. Issues of identity, gender, colonialism, belonging and displacement at the heart of Willurai’s practise. Often challenging the viewer through an immersive experience and or durational aspect that draws out time, memory, history and human experience.

Later Event: August 3
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