Fool’s Paradise by Joan Ross - 2018 | Michael Reid Gallery

Joan Ross
Fool’s Paradise, 2018

hand-painted digital collage
113 x 80 cm (framed dimensions)
edition of 8 + 2AP

Companion work:
Port Jackson Painter: “Accipiter cirrhocephalus, collared sparrowhawk” 1788 and 1797, 29.7 x18 cm, watercolour 112 from the Watling Collection titled ‘New Holland Sparrowhawk’. The bird has been re identified as either the Brown Goshawk Accipiter fasciatus or the Collared Sparrowhawk Accipiter cirrocephalus by noted orthologous Keith Hindwood (1970).

European settlement in Australia brought with it an insatiable need to record, name and catalogue the remarkable specimens of the strange flora and fauna encountered. European naturalists in turn called New Holland the ‘land of contrarieties’ and a ‘Fool’s Paradise’. The 18th century meaning of the term Fool’s Paradise derived from the Medieval; alluding to humorous topsy-turvy entertainments both silly and wise, an apt moniker for the land ‘Down Under’.

Ross has taken an 18th century etching, from a drawing by the unknown Port Jackson artist, gently beheading the Hawk to illustrate the deluded contentment with our impact on Australia’s Indigenous flora and fauna. Happy to ignore the past, and to believe that this can go on as before, we live in the contemporary definition of a Fool’s Paradise.

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