All You Can Eat Seafood Buffet i, ii & iii 2017
hand painted pigment print on cotton rag paper, triptych
72.8 x 100 cm, each panel
edition of 8 + 2AP
Joseph Fowles, 1810- 1878, Millers Point Sydney, c1845, watercolour drawing, 26.5 x 42.6cm, David Scott Mitchell Collection, State Library of New South Wales.
Joseph Fowles, 1810- 1878, Millers Point – from Fort Street to Dawes Point 1840s, c1845, watercolour drawing, 25.6 x 42.6cm, David Scott Mitchell Collection, State Library of New South Wales.
Fowles (Joseph) 1810-1878: Sydney in 1848 / illustrated by engravings from drawings by Joseph Fowles. Sydney  illustrated by copper-plate engravings of Sydney’s principal streets, public buildings, churches, chapels, etc.; originally published in 20 parts between 1848-50.
Between 1848 to 1850, the artist, author, farmer, surgeon, racing enthusiast and educator Joseph Fowles created the book ‘Sydney in 1848’. Over twenty parts, the book was a pictorial representation of Sydney streets and principal buildings at the time, accompanied by descriptions. Fowles was motivated to publish by a desire to show Sydney as he perceived it, a busy city of grand buildings, rather than the rough backwater those in London believed it to be.
Ironically, Joan Ross, one of Australia’s most significant contemporary artists has plundered the imagery of Fowler in a desire to show Sydney as she perceives it, a city of hidden, contested histories, rather than a thrusting, busy, confident city those across the world believe it to be.
A culinary and visual free-for-all can be found in, All You Can Eat Seafood Buffet i, ii & iii, 2017. The central panel shows a large pile of discarded shells, a reference to shellfish middens that once surrounded Sydney Harbour; clear markers of the permanent presence of Indigenous communities. Ross plays with this idea of the Harbour as a Seafood Buffet, a bountiful colony to be shamelessly gorged upon. As always, Ross finds the dark humour in this counter-offering; Indigenous subsistence and colonial glut.