Exhibition Dates: 28 October – 21 November 1998
Fiona Foley's exhibition of new work, Living with the Wind, forms a kind of map, or visual diary, of a range of different experiences. The title refers to the time an artist spends by herself creating a new body of work, and the introspection that this involves. Foley has for many years created work that speaks its own private tongue, with symbols and references that relate to her extensive travels both within Australia and overseas and her family history and language (that of the Badtjala people of Hervey Bay and Fraser Island). Living with the Wind includes work inspired by Foley's journey to Korea last year, as well as ceramics created in collaboration with Kelvin Yazzie, a Navajo artist-in-residence at Hervey Bay.
The work is also strongly based in Foley's heritage. She is in her second year of an Australia Council research fellowship (the only Queenslander to receive one at the time) awarded to study Badtjala history and revive imagery and culture that had faced genocide. Two pieces specifically deal with the language of the area; yet all of the work is infused with a sense of memory and of contemplation which goes beyond visible signs.
Fiona Foley works with a wide range of media, from painting, drawing and photography to sculpture and installation. She has also created, both singly and collaboratively, two of Australia's most memorable public sculptures: Edge of the Trees at the Museum of Sydney (with Janet Laurence) and Lie of the Land in Melbourne. Both works evoke quietly yet forcefully the displacement of Aboriginal people from the land, with Edge of the Trees whispering with voices long gone yet still very much present, and Lie of the Land containing a litany of objects that were traded by John Batman for the Melbourne region: beads, blankets, flour, knives. This transaction also formed the basis for Foley's 1995 installation Land Deal, which combined the objects Batman offered the inhabitants with a large spiral of flour placed on the floor, a motif that has resonances in a number of cultures.
The variety of Foley's work reflects her studies both with European art institutions in Sydney and London, and with the artists in Ramingining and Maningrida in the Northern Territory. She has shown throughout Asia, Europe, and North and South America, as well as all of the major galleries in Australia.
Fiona Foley has been integral in the promotion and development of Aboriginal art and culture both in this country and internationally. She has lectured widely and was a guest curator at the 1994 Havana Biennial. She was one of the founding members of Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative in Sydney, as well as sitting on the boards of Bangarra Dance Theatre, National Indigenous Arts Advocacy Association, Artspace, and the Visual Arts Panel of the Australia Council.