The Meaning of Fire by Dr Christian Thompson AO - 2021 | Michael Reid Gallery

Dr Christian Thompson AO
The Meaning of Fire, 2021

Finalist in the 2021 Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards
c-type print on Fuji Pearl Metallic Paper
120 x 120 cm
edition 1 of 6 +2 AP
Final edition remaining
$14,000, framed with anti-reflective glass

Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards, 2021

Westpac Art Collection, Sydney, Australia

The Meaning of Fire is a continuation of my signature flower walls, in which the large scale, square-format photographs offer a portal to a different realm, the spiritual realm. I’ve arrived at this place, playing with many of the modes of contemporary art, abstraction, surrealism, and the metaphysical, where the figure becomes one with the natural world. Focusing the lens onto myself, I stare back at the viewer. The white cross-hatching over my face and hands embeds my body within the history of my Bidjara heritage. My visibly Aboriginal features are simultaneously adorned and obscured by native and non-native flora; smoke bush, king proteas, green leucadendron, pink and yellow geraldton wax, poached egg paper daisies, pink hakea, punctuated by gum and wattle foliage.

The botanical constellation is a measurement of time, capturing a transient moment when the flowers are briefly in bloom. My family originally hails from Springsure, Charleville, and the Carnarvon Gorge but we have been close by in Barcaldine, Central QLD for over a century. Every winter, my grandmother would say “the desert flowers are in bloom” and off I would go, marching into the bush to see the arid, semi-desert hinterland transformed into an ethereal wonderland. This beautiful gift from my Country and from my ancestors has stayed with me for life, and has grown in strength in my art. I look forward to going home soon, just as I have done for my whole life, to again be with the desert flowers of my traditional Country” explains Thompson.


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