Fiona Foley (b.1964) Australia
search @ www.mca.com.au www.nga.gov.au www.qagoma.qld.gov.au www.johnmcdonald.net.au www.uap.com.au
Land deal is an installation consisting of flour to create a spiral shape on the floor, together with a blanket, knives, mirrors, axes, a box with beads (white and blue), scissors and a text. The text reads:
Land deal: After a full explanation of what my object was, I purchased two large tracts of land from them – About 600,000 acres, more or less – and delivered over to them the blankets, knives, looking-glasses, tomahawks, beads, scissors, flour, etc., as payment for the land and also agreed to give them a tribute, or rent, yearly. John Batman
The objects chosen for the installation are closely associated with the words by John Batman about his purchase of the land on which the city of Melbourne now stands; they are a symbolic representation of the many Indigenous groups across Australia and the way in which their land was taken from them. The spiral shape echoes similar grooved designs drawn in the sand for Aboriginal ceremonies. Objects that Batman sought to trade have been here exploited in a different sense, making this work rich in its layers of implication and irony.
Whilst the piece pertains to the purchase of Melbourne and Batman’s land deal, as with much of Foley’s work, it equally reflects of issues of custodianship, land possession and occupation of her country, Thoorgine and other areas of Aboriginal Australia. Thoorgine was renamed Fraser Island after Eliza Fraser (wife of a British captain whose ship was wrecked on the island in 1836). In this case it was not so much the ‘purchase’ of the island but the forcible removal of the Indigenous owners who were dispossessed of their traditional land. Gloria Morales (2002)
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
from: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002
Fiona Foley (born 1964) Badtjala language group, Wondunna clan, Fraser Island, Australia Black velvet (1996) cotton fabric with cotton applique (each with handle) 9 bags: 99 x 20cm 180 x 200cm (installation dimensions variable)
The title of this work makes a bold claim for the viewer’s attention. Attached to a work made by an Indigenous woman artist, the words immediately suggest sexual contact between black and white by using the colloquial term for Aboriginal women by white frontiersmen. (The phrase is also the name of a heady cocktail of stout and champagne, with resonances of a combination of wealth and hardship.)
The work invites its viewers to consider the racism inherent in this term and to confront it. It packs a considerable political punch, and yet is deceptively simple in form: a series of modest cotton dilly bags hanging in two rows.
The nine stitched cotton bags are based on both traditional Aboriginal dilly bags and more modern equivalents made from flour bags or, more recently, those made by Third World manufacturers for First World counter-cultural markets.
The emblem stitched to the front of each bag is a red and black representation of the female sexual organ, an image as ancient as the prehistoric art forms of all the world’s continents, and as modern in its application as recent feminist political movements. www.qagoma.qld.gov.au
Fiona Foley with Urban Art Projects Bible and Bullets installed 2004, Redfern Park, NSW.
A group of cast bronze and stainless steel sculptural play elements and water play environment, inspired by the natural forms and seed pods of plants including lotus, yam, wrinkly nut and mangrove. The work also commemorates the Redfern Speech delivered by then Prime Minister Paul Keating at Redfern Park in 1992 and Djon Mundine’s dedication to Michael Riley. The work was commissioned as part of the Redfern Park upgrade and provides the Redfern community with an inviting and interactive destination for kids and grown-ups alike. www.cityartsydney.com.au
Fiona Foley was commissioned through UAP to create an intuitive play-scape for the under 7 age group. Fiona gathered her reference material from walks throughout the local area, theming the play elements around native flora. The intention is to stimulate the imagination and senses as much as provide tangible cues to structured play activity.
These elements sit adjacent to other commissioned art works by Fiona, that more directly reflect the site’s indigenous social and political history. www.uap.com.au
proposal drawings and photo-documentation www.uap.com.au search for Foley, Redfern Park.