Pictured above, 'The Tyranny of Distance' is one of many works in a larger body of work bearing the same name, produced by South Australian artist, Paul Sloan, after a yearlong investigation into colonialism and colonisation within the context of the Australian landscape.
Educated at RMIT, Melbourne, Paul Sloan graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art (Hons) in 1998. Born into the politically charged situation of Belfast, Northern Ireland in the 1970s, his family emigrated to Australia to escape escalating violence.
As an artist, Paul Sloan is interested in investigating how our colonial past – as lived experience and art historical influence – affects the present. His work poses the question: how do we understand ourselves in relation to objects of a colonial past? What colonises us now?
Working across a variety of media, his practice incorporates painting, sculpture, performance, sound pieces and photography.
This latest body of work saw him travel to the desert, to coastal caves, and the reclaimed swamp land of South Australia's urban fringe in search of what he calls ‘Australian fears and visions’, historically geared yet eminently contemporary imaginings of the isolation and distance central to the formation of Australia’s history and national identity.
During his research, these potent symbols - a human skull and a brown snake - arose from the barren landscape of the Australian desert. When read in conversation with one another they seemed to speak of the interior's harshness and the pervasive, looming threat of mortality. Cast in gypsum and presented with the minimal starkness that white offers, these objects resonate with a totemic significance.
'The Tyranny of Distance' was kindly made possible by funding from the Australia Council for Arts.