This compelling and salient exhibition contemplates and questions Australia’s role in the asylum debate. ‘The Island’ as a concept can be a safe place of refuge, isolated geographically and ideologically from the humanitarian challenges the world is currently grappling with. Alternatively it can take on a more sinister tone as a place deserted for those who have survived a perilous sea journey only to be marooned, stateless, detained, looking to the horizon for help.
In Europe today, the mass movement of refugees and asylum seekers displaced by war and poverty is history repeated. Where once immigrants were embraced as a means to drive the health and economy of nations, today we turn inwards as the ideology of walls and fences become potent political capital. Seton expertly transforms and manipulates his marble sculptures into emphatic motifs and metaphors of these current socio-political themes and narratives.
Within the exhibition: oars, life rafts and life vests are washed up on the shores of the 'The Island'. A key work on loan from The Art Gallery of South Australia, Someone died trying to have a life like mine 2013 was first shown in the exhibition Dark Heart at the 2014 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art. This major work of art is inspired by an actual event where 28 life jackets were found on a beach of the Cocos Islands within Australian territory, the owners still remain unidentified.
Photography: Mark Pokorny
Artist website: www.alexseton.com
ALEX SETON: THE ISLAND exhibition catalogue (pdf)
ALEX SETON: THE ISLAND Media Release: 'THE ISLAND exhibition at Newcastle Art Gallery
contemplates the plight of asylum seekers' (pdf)
Alex Seton, Bake a nice cake - pram 2008 Collection learning resource (pdf)