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Nicole Welch

Wildēornes Land

BLUE MOUNTAINS CITY ART GALLERY


WILDĒORNES LAND Interrogations of European notions of the sublime in nature, colonialist mastery and ecology subtend the cinematic imagery of Nicole Welch. In Wildēornes Land she subverts another Eurocentric concept brought to Australian shores: the wilderness of European folklore. Steeped in the dark lore of the forest – its haunted zones, domains of witches, its dens of wolves and shapeshifters – European folktales persist in many of the stories handed down. The Brothers Grimm, Hansel and Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood. When the European colonists arrived in Australia they also brought with them this dark imagery. Deep in the European psyche, bad things happen to people in the woods. The wilderness is therefore the place that you don’t go – certainly not unarmed or lacking talismans. It is a place of extreme vulnerability. Even for Indigenous Australians there are places of bad spirits, places that command ceremonies of appeasement.

Unless, of course, you are on a peak, looking down, surveying the vastness of the scary place from the other side of a magical divide. The importance of the vantage point cannot be underestimated. Without it, the vast and daunting scale of the ‘Wildēornes’ cannot be enjoyed through the European colonialist lens. The vantage point, drawing its line of demarcation between known and unknown, savage and civilised, safe and unsafe, underlies the lesson of the sublime in nature: terrifying chasms and dangers tamed through the imaginary possession of the view from on high, from that point of Kantian safety. In Wildēornes Land something has shifted. Nature is no longer secure. With climate change the big scary wilderness has lost its power. Welch, naked, in an antique mourning shawl, stands on a sublime Blue Mountains abyss. She occupies the same position as


Caspar David Friedrich’s confident wanderer, immaculate in his 18th century gentleman’s suit, surveying a mighty realm. Welch, by contrast, in mourning garb, offers herself, naked and sacrificial, to a world on the brink of being lost. The symbolism of Welch’s composition asks us to imagine the unimaginable: an ecological crisis that dwarfs the wilderness that was, once, for Europeans, our deepest repository of fear. Across images of clouds and sky, at cinematic scale, that same delicate black mourning shawl suspends itself, its pall a symbol of human making heralding death. It epitomises the Victorian era as the departure point from which the industrial revolution and the burning of fossil fuels accelerated. Like the gaseous changes taking place in the atmosphere there’s a gossamer lightness to it.

In the tondi, exquisitely framing the landscape through the circular aperture of an 18th century aesthetic, something is clearly wrong. The sky dominates. It’s as if there’s been an accident, someone has bumped the camera, skewing the subject. Instead of rare birds holding the focus in Tondo #4, Projection – Regent Honeyeater (2016), or the view from the lookout garnering attention, Tondo #3, Kanangra Wall Lookout (2014), the sky intrudes at odd angles, somehow menacing. Where the wilderness once dominated, lurking in the psyche, the carbon-saturated atmosphere has become the new sublime of danger.

Dr. Ann Finegan Co-Director Cementa Contemporary Arts Festival


NICOLE WELCH Nicole Welch (b. 1974. Bathurst, NSW) is a Bathurst-based multi-media artist who produces stunning images of picturesque landscapes that have a loaded symbol implanted into each painstakingly composed scene. Working primarily on site in the landscape, Welch takes mobile cranes with chandeliers, generators, spotlights and state-of-the-art projectors to her chosen location, where she camps out, waiting for the perfect light to capture alluring disruptions illuminated within captivating landscapes. Welch’s work incorporates colonial imagery and iconography into typified Australian terrain, often engaging with themes of colonisation and environmental issues, responding to the specific landscape of her chosen regional locations, and integrating archival research from historical sources. Welch completed a Masters of Fine Arts at UNSW Art & Design in the mediums of photography and video in 2016.

She has been invited to show numerous exhibitions in a solo capacity, including exhibitions at Blue Mountains City Art Gallery (2017), Brenda May Gallery (2015, 2014, 2013), Murray Art Museum Albury (2015), Bathurst Regional Art Gallery (2016, 2012, 2007), the University of Wollongong (2008) and the Canberra School of Art (1998). Welch’s works are in the collections of Artbank, Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, Murray Art Museum Albury, Parliament House Art Collection Canberra, Macquarie Group, Canberra School of Art (ANU), Harris Farm Market’s Collection and the National Library of Australia, among others. Welch was named a finalist in the Kennedy Prize and won the Windmill Trust Scholarship (2011), the Harris Farm Markets Acquisitive Art Award (2010), the Studio One Residency Award (1998), the Megalo Access Residency Award (1998) and the Chamberlains Law Firm Acquisition Award (1998). Nicole Welch is represented by MAY SPACE, Sydney.


LIST OF WORKS NICOLE WELCH Wildēornes Land #1 – Capertee Valley 2017 giclée print, face-mounted, 79.87 x 142 cm Edition of 6 Wildēornes Land #2 – Capertee Valley 2017 giclée print, face-mounted, 79.87 x 142 cm Edition of 6 Wildēornes Land #3 – Grose Valley 2017 giclée print, face-mounted, 79.87 x 142 cm Edition of 6 Wildēornes Land #4 – Grose Valley 2017 giclée print, face-mounted, 79.87 x 142 cm Edition of 6 Wildēornes Land #5 –Wollemi 2017 giclée print, face-mounted, 79.87 x 142 cm Edition of 6 Wildēornes Land #6 – Wollemi 2017 giclée print, face-mounted, 79.87 x 142 cm Edition of 6 Wildēornes Land #7 –Wollemi 2017 giclée print, face-mounted, 79.87 x 142 cm Edition of 6

Tondo #3, Kanangra Wall Lookout 2014 giclée print, face-mounted, 60 cm diameter Tondo #4, Projection – Regent Honeyeater from ‘The Birds of Australia: in seven volumes’, John Gould, 1848 2016 giclée print, face-mounted, 60 cm diameter Tondo #5, Projection – Swift Parrots from ‘The Birds of Australia: in seven volumes’, John Gould, 1848 2017 giclée print, face-mounted, 60 cm diameter Chantilly Wildēornes – lagoon 2017 HD digital video, 15:01 min Edition of 3 Chantilly Wildēornes –swamp 2017 HD digital video, 15:01 min Edition of 6 Chantilly Wildēornes – valley 2017 HD digital video, 15:01 min Edition of 3 Wildēornes Body 2017 HD digital video still Edition of 3


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Blue Mountains Cultural Centre acknowledges that the City of the Blue Mountains is located on the traditional lands of the Darug and Gundungurra peoples. Many thanks to Nicole Welch for her dedication to this exhibition.

A Blue Mountains City Art Gallery exhibition curated by Sabrina Roesner. © 2017 Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, the author and the artist 2017. All rights reserved. 30 Parke Street KATOOMBA, NSW 2780

The artist wishes to thank Rae and Yuri Bolotin, BigCi; Tracy Sorensen, Film Editor; Tim Roebuck, Audio Editor; Vicki Powys, Sound Recordings; Olivia Welch, Stylist; Ross McDonald, Production Assistant; Ann Finegan, Co-Direcor CEMENTA; Bathurst Regional Gallery; and Blue Mountains Cultural Centre staff.

IMAGES

Nicole Welch is represented by MAY SPACE, Sydney.

Outside left: Wildēornes Land #4 – Grose Valley 2017

www.nicolewelch.com.au www.mayspace.com.au

Inside left: Wildēornes Land #7 - Wollemi 2017

Outside cover: Wildēornes Land #3 2017 Outside centre: Tondo #4, Projection – Regent Honeyeater from ‘The Birds of Australia: in seven volumes’, John Gould, 1848 2016

Inside centre: Tondo #5, Projection – Swift Parrots from ‘The Birds of Australia: in seven volumes’, John Gould, 1848 2017 Published in conjunction with the exhibition Nicole Welch: Wildēornes Land 1 April – 7 May 2017.

Inside right: Wildēornes Land #2 – Capertee Valley 2017

BLUE MOUNTAINS CULTURAL CENTRE 30 Parke Street, Katoomba • 02 4780 5410 Open 10am – 5pm Mon – Fri • 10am – 4pm Sat & Sun 10am – 2pm public holidays (Closed Good Friday & Xmas Day)

bluemountainsculturalcentre.com.au

Nicole Welch 'Wildeornes Land' Exhibition Room Brochure online format  

Nicole Welch’s Wildēornes Land is an ambitious, monumental cinematic exhibition combining installation, photography and moving image that in...

Nicole Welch 'Wildeornes Land' Exhibition Room Brochure online format  

Nicole Welch’s Wildēornes Land is an ambitious, monumental cinematic exhibition combining installation, photography and moving image that in...

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