“The ‘Polari’ series for me represents metamorphosis, aspiration, transformation, artifice and fantasy. I think it was Francis Bacon who said something about art being as far away from reality as possible and for me ‘Polari’ is a manifestation of this idea. I really love the work of artists like Paul McCarthy, Pipilotti Rist and Ana Mendieta, artists who invite you into their world, who make themselves vulnerable and who allow you to leave the rapid pace of reality and at the same time reveal something very profound about it. The characters in ‘Polari’ are not me, they really emerge somewhere between my conscious and unconscious space, the third realm is that of my practice. I have been living in the Britain for four years now, undertaking my Doctorate at Trinity College, University of Oxford and for the last six months I have been based in London, which has been thrilling, exhausting and exciting all in one. The city of London has been a great influence, the electricity of the city, the cultural diversity and also the sometimes confrontation of daily life which is generally in my mind much harder than in Australia. This is though what makes London so gripping in its rawness; it is what it is and you either sink or float. During my time in Britain I have been comforted and inspired by the British countryside; its mythology, its beauty and the solitude I have felt in its midst. I had my debut show at The Hospital Club in Covent Garden this year, a visitor of the show told me about the word ‘Polari’ and its origins and meaning, and how it was widely spoken in the council estates and how that sense of community was being destroyed by the fragmentation and gentrification of certain areas of London. I knew that I would eventually use the word in my work and it seemed like a fitting title for this new body of work, indeed ‘Trinity’,’ Ellipse‘and ‘Echo’ have all emerged through the cultural filter that is London. There is rawness to them, elegance, and a beauty. I often feel like a sponge, when I listen to music I see images and when I read I receive images. I am really a conduit and it is my task to be an armature for these figures and to observe the minutia of the natural world, of country that I have grown up on and allow to emerge, to allow the figures and nature to speak to each other and allow the audience to exist in this conversation. I was surprised that there was this celestial feeling to the work, but at the same time I expected it to be there. The crystal forms are something I have been working with for sometime, firstly in my ‘King Billy’ Series, then in ‘We Bury Our Own’ and now in ‘Polari’, they have slowly crept forward and taken shape, I like that they have different properties, healing, communication, travel, love, protection and that they are uniquely Australian. They represent to me the combination of the masculine and the feminine, through photographic process I have taken quite unremarkable stones and amplified their beauty, from micro to macro. ‘Ariel’ and ‘Siren’ are the result of these earlier forays into their new photographic forms. I’m focused on process at the moment, in past body of works it was important for me to be in my work but now it is this desire to get as far away from me as possible, the crystals and the characters that I kind of view as sculptures, because the process of creating them is not unlike building a sculpture and this is really a return to my formal training. I needed space to step outside of myself and to focus on this language of materials and objects and for me ‘Polari’ suggests this, occupying a space that is timeless, race-less and genderless and in the utilisation of metamorphosis as a way of playing this out, we are constantly changing physical and emotional form and yet we stay the same – I think this one of the underlying trajectories of my work and also of the human experience – to understand ourselves more deeply and to find our place in the world, I hope ‘Polari’ facilitates this process by providing a space for aspiration and imagination and contemplation.

Christian Thompson – London, 2014.

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