hand painted digital collage
45.5 x 144 cm, paper size
edition of 6 + 2AP
We have sung the same songs for millions of years – commissioned by the AGNSW for the hoarding surrounding the Sydney Modern building site, erected in late 2019. Both works pay homage to the longevity of the planet while recognising our human connections to place. This imaginative view of Sydney Harbour is not topographically accurate but quotes drawings and prints of the harbour made by colonial-era artist Joseph Lycett, including a watercolour in the AGNSW collection (View of the Heads, at the entrance into Port Jackson c 1822).
The land and its animals speak to us in English and Indigenous language. The birds – carriers of knowledge – represent both the endurance of Indigenous culture and the ancient history of Australia’s endemic plants and animals. Indigenous figures share the space with settlers in Regency dress, including a naturalist, signifying the Enlightenment urge to collect, classify and name nature. The ‘hi-vis’ fluorescent yellow colour symbolises authority and control and is a metaphor for colonisation. Elements from contemporary life, including the party decorations and cakes, construction cranes and warning signs inject an element of sardonic humour into an epic tale of longevity and change.-
Joan Ross was the winner of the 2017 Sulman Prize, Art Gallery of NSW, and was a finalist again in 2018 and 2019. In 2018 Joan Ross won the Mordant Family Virtual Reality Commission – the most important commission in the country in this new medium. In 2020, Ross was commissioned by the Art Gallery of NSW to produce a major new work to adorn the new Sydney Modern extension whilst under construction. Ross has been the recipient of numerous awards, grants and prizes, including the winner of the inaugural 2017 Ravenswood Australian Women’s Art Prize, Sydney.
Ross is represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia; Parliament House; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, The Art Gallery of New South Wales; and the City of Sydney as well as strong representation throughout multiple regional galleries and museums.