Joan Ross uses wit and the absurd to reexamine Australia’s colonial past. Her animations and hand painted prints show indigenous people and animals emerging from well-known eighteenth-century landscapes then blending back into them without a trace. In contrast, cut-outs of newly arrived settlers shuffle awkwardly, characterised by patches of harsh fluorescent yellow – a metaphor for colonisation. Ross’ sculptures of giant designer handbags, stitched from kangaroo hides, symbolise the destruction of aboriginal life and culture that followed. By delivering her message with humour she ensures that it packs a punch.

Joan Ross was the winner of the 2017 Sir John Sulman Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales and the inaugural Ravenswood Women’s Art Prize, Sydney (2017). Ross’ work is represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, MCA Australia, and City of Sydney as well as numerous regional galleries and museums.

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