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Inside Mawson's Sleeping Bag: the poetics of heroism

My interest in science and the visual arts converges in an examination of the role of a South Australian scientist, Sir Douglas Mawson, as Hero in Australia’s construction of a national identity and assertion of social values. Sir Douglas Mawson's extraordinary feat of survival during his historic 1911 1912 Antarctic expedition has become an indelible presence in the conventional construction of national identity, his mythological status illustrated by the inclusion of his image on Australian currency and postage stamps.
My artworks position alongside Mawson's voice the experiences of members of the Stolen Generations and their families as excluded narrative voices of equivalent significance. They endured equivalent pain, survived the horror of extreme deprivation with equivalent courage and are worthy of honour accordingly. These voices, embroidered together, work on each other as a poetic evocation of our mortality, of inspirational narrative, cathartic spaces, and emotional verity.
This work continues a major concern of my practice – my endeavour as a non indigenous Australian to critically address Indigenous issues. This series of works has evolved to become a critique of the heroic in Australian history and how we construct contemporary Australian mythology.


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