Going Bush is a series of three wall-hangings which continue my curiosity with histories, myths and narratives to do with the Australian bush and interior. The bush has numerous associations within our culture, but is particularly tied up with stories around survival, brutality and harshness; those of escapee convicts, early settlers losing their way, explorers Burke & Wills or John McDouall Stuart, mystical fictions, unspeakable acts reported as news, as well as in contemporary screened tales such as Underbelly. Within this local version of the bush an unkemptness or wildness abounds that is not dissimilar to the beards documented upon male figures in Australian history (such as Ned Kelly, Burke, colonial pastoralists, or men driven wild by the harsh climate). The beards, scrubby and bush-like, grow around the face and teeth of individuals who faced survival and all that that entails. These works merge the body with the bush, fusing spindly faux sapling bodies and venturing void heads with sets of dark growling teeth and an unsettling familiarity.
Going Bush is laboriously made from materials and methods long associated with the home; blackwork embroidery, padding and macramé. They are made slowly over long periods of time and are integrally linked with the body’s small repetitive and piercing gestures. Each beard style (beardo, bushranger or bloatee) can be read as a strange offering or memorial that has transpired from an inside state of wonder and probing of narratives around the Australian bush.
Photograph Grant Hancock