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The Sometimes Colourful Fate of Contemporary Nuggets

The Sometimes Colourful Fate of Contemporary Nuggets

Emma Buswell & Jess Day

Opening 01.02.17 6-8pm
Artist Talks 23.02.17 6-7pm

This exhibition explores fiction and local folklore as tools for the construction of new histories. As contemporary artists operating from Australia’s geographical extreme of the West, Emma Buswell and Jess Day focus on the generative influence of narrative regarding understandings of landscape as articulated through cinema and literature. Producing sculptural responses to cinematic and narrative icons of place, both artists create an environment in which ideas of established fact and popular fictions interplay.

The Sometimes Colourful Fate of Contemporary Nuggets focuses on the events of 1980, wherein; a golden nugget was created in the backyard of three Perth brothers that would later become the centre of one of Western Australia’s most notorious ongoing crime investigations; The Perth Mint Swindle. In their own investigation of these events, the artists craft objects that describe pop-cultural ideas of place, sourced from fiction, factual analysis and local myth.

In 1980 Western Australia’s most notorious golden nugget was fabricated in the garage of the Mickelberg Brothers in an attempt to advertise their ‘from the air’ light-craft prospecting business. More convincing than they ever imagined, the quickly notorious nugget was purchased by local philanthropist Alan Bond for $350 000, more than twice its actual worth. Still surrounded by a multitude of unanswered questions, the Mickelberg tale acts as a component of an ongoing world building by Buswell and Day in which fiction and fact become generative tools for rupturing linear established histories and modes of inquiry.

Buswell and Day re-examine this infamous tale through the aesthetics of true crime documentaries and souvenir culture, creating sculptural objects that operate as stages of an ongoing investigation in which the viewer is encouraged to take part. Combining contemporary Australian vernacular, endemic pop-culture and a systematic line of enquiry, works in this exhibition collapse distinctions between legend and truth-telling and take up residence in the shady grey area in between.


Jess Day is a practicing artist and writer based in Perth, Western Australia. During her time at Curtin Day was awarded the Artsource Industry Ready Award in 2014 and the Freerange Gallery Graduate Award in 2015, Day was nominated for Hatched National Showcase in both 2014 and 2015.
Since graduating Fine Arts Honours at Curtin University in 2015, Day has exhibited at Another Gallery, Success Gallery and Heathcote Museum and Gallery. Day has also undertaken two artist residencies at both Another ARI and Curtin University where she was also a University Associate. Day has written articles for both Art Monthly and the National Association for the Visual Arts. Jess Day continues to practice and write from her home studio or Subaru Outback while on location in various geographical extremes found in Australia’s Wild West.

Emma Buswell is a West Australian based artist, curator and designer currently practicing out of Perth. Since graduating with First Class Honours and the top studio award for her graduating year in 2012, Buswell has undertaken several curatorial and arts making projects, most recently as curator at Success Art Space in Fremantle. She has curated projects Hypotheticals Part II, MaxArt, Wilderness Tasks and Plugger; completed an artist residency at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts and has exhibited in a host of group and solo exhibitions. In 2011 she was selected to represent Australia at the Antonio Ratti Foundation in Como, Italy, where she studied under prodigious artist Susan Hiller. In 2013 Buswell co-curated and presented work in an exhibition titled Hypotheticals Part II at Freerange Gallery. Later that year she was awarded a grant from the Artsource Constantine Family Foundation and started a temporary art space and durational work called MaxART, which occupied a two person office space in the old Bankwest Tower in Perth. Other exhibitions include; Under Development (solo), MOANA Project Space, Perth 2015, MATHESON, Applecross Artspace 2015, Illuminations, The Blue Room Theatre 2016, Excessive Lighting, Freerange Gallery 2015, Stay/Keep, Paper Mountain Gallery 2014, Run Artist Run, Paper Mountain Gallery 2014 and Corso Aperto I, II & III, Antonio Ratti Foundation, Como, Italy, 2011. In 2015 Buswell completed a professional development through the Australia Council for the Arts, working at the Australian Pavilion during the Venice Biennale.

Earlier Event: January 11
Walan Yinaagirbang | Strong Women
Later Event: February 1
For Want of a Nail