Exhibition shows the region from a different perspective
Published on 08 June 2023
Central Queenslanders can see aspects of their region from a different perspective at a new exhibition at Rockhampton Museum of Art, Welcome to Paradise.
The exhibition is the work of local queer, transgender and non-binary artist, Easton Dunne (they/them).
Dunne, who grew up on an isolated cattle property on Wadja Country in Central Queensland, has used their experiences to reflect on life in the beef capital and to challenge stereotypes around queerness in rural and regional areas.
Locals visiting the exhibition will see familiar items such as signs, symbols, stories and turns of phrase displayed in an unexpected way.
“Sharing my experiences through visual art is a rich and robust way to communicate that the life experiences of rural and regional queer people defy stereotypes and categorisation,” Dunne said.
“The exhibition doesn’t take itself too seriously, even though some of the experiences that it speaks about have been really difficult,” they said.
Welcome to Paradise is described as a ‘breakthrough’ exhibition, signalling a technical and conceptual shift in the artist’s practice.
Dunne has expanded their media and processes, which previously consisted mostly of works on paper, to now include video, sculpture and installation.
The artist’s work in Welcome to Paradise has moved away from more traditional landscapes and portraiture in some of their previous work, such as their 2019 Bayton Award-winning Songs of Suburbia and Subtropical Poems. However, it is still related to their previous work, visually and thematically.
“The show is very clearly set in the context of Central Queensland, just like my previous work - this exhibition just has a lot more pink in it!” Dunne said.
Welcome to Paradise takes a deliberate look at what it meant for them growing up and living as a queer, transgender and non-binary person in rural and regional Queensland.
“This is the first time I've had a major exhibition focused on the concept. I am at a point in my life now where I have the confidence as an artist and as a person that makes worrying about how some people might perceive the work far less important than sharing my perspective,” they said.
“Especially if sharing my perspective has the potential to reach other queer people and helps them feel like they belong in Central Queensland.”
“I think all people can find resonance with universal experiences of pride, joy, shame, fear, love, hope and belonging, and these are the ideas that underpin my exhibition,” they said.
Rockhampton Regional Council’s Communities and Heritage spokesperson Cr Drew Wickerson encouraged people to come and see the exhibition.
“Easton is a talented local artist and winner of the 2019 Bayton Award. I urge people to come and see their latest exhibition,” Cr Wickerson said.
Welcome to Paradise is an extension of a smaller body of work that the artist created for a solo exhibition titled Main Drag which was exhibited at Metro Arts in Meanjin/Brisbane in March-April 2023, and First Draft ARI on Gadigal Land/Sydney in June-July 2023.
Welcome to Paradise is on display at Rockhampton Museum of Art until 23 July, 2023. Entry is free. More information: www.rmoa.com.au/WelcometoParadise
Rockhampton Museum of Art is owned and operated by Rockhampton Regional Council.
Easton Dunne will conduct a workshop in conjunction with Pride Month (June 2023) on Saturday, 24 June 2023 | 09:30 AM to 11:30 AM.
The workshop is free but bookings are essential.
MORE ABOUT THE ARTIST
NOTE: The term 'queer' has been used in this media release because the artist, Easton Dunne, specifically identifies with it. Many younger LGBTQIAP+ people find this word to be an empowering way of describing their identities since it has been reclaimed in recent decades. Because of the historical use of the word 'queer' as a slur, however, we acknowledge that not all LGBTQIAP+ people feel comfortable with this word being used to describe their identities.