times: Tue-Fri 12-5pm; Sat & Sun 11am -4pm;
Clair Chinnery’s work stems from an interest in the roles that institutions have to play in our existences and experiences. Themes such as ‘the gendered experience’, ‘memory’, ‘cultural identity’ and ‘belief systems’ permeate her entire practice, she explores these themes through the careful construction and juxtaposition of objects and images within defined spaces. Her recent projects have focused on issues of language/communication, cultural and natural migration and globalisation. Amongst other things, these works retrospectively re-interpret the writings and images produced as a direct result of European exploration of the New World. Through the use of biological data and historic documents, the artist explores issues such as the ecological marking of geographical boundaries, and of ‘loss’ in relation to imperialist expansions into the New World.
For her exhibition at the O3 Gallery, Chinnery will be showing - for the first time - the original completed 81 drawings that form part of her ongoing project - The Feral Memorial.
The Feral Memorial seeks to explore human attitudes towards certain animals that have come to exemplify the ‘shaped’ ecologies of contemporary, post-colonial global environments. The ‘Brumby’ represents one such animal and has undoubtedly left its mark on the landscape and ecosystem/s of Australia. The Brumbies, which are feral descendents of horses brought to Australia by the English in 1788 and 1795, divide opinion. Seen by some as a pest (damaging natural flora, creating habitat loss for indigenous species, causing soil erosion, and damaging farmland), Brumbies are seen by others as a symbol of national identity and cultural heritage: like the Mustangs of the USA, deserving of a rightful place in the landscape of Australia. Brumbies, therefore, represent societal ambivalence toward an animal that has adapted well to an environment in which it did not evolve.
‘The brumbies were pests, sweeping past and carrying tame horses off with them… “a very weed among animals.” […] In the 1930s when bounties were offered for horse ears … one man shot 400 horses in a single night.’
Alfred W. Crosby, extract from Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900. Cambridge, 1986.
The chapter containing the above extract from Alfred Crosby’s Ecological Imperialism had a palpable effect on the artist, who tried to envisage not only what 400 pairs of feral horse ears would look like, but also to imagine the mass of carcasses left by one man’s act of slaughter. The Feral Memorial is a work in progress. When exhibited, it usually consists of 400 A5 size cards hung in eight rows of 50. The cards have thick black borders, reminiscent of funerary stationery from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Eighty-one of these cards contain a printed reproduction of a portrait drawing of the ears of a different horse. The time consuming process of making these drawings is ongoing. For the artist this activity represents a form of ‘atonement by proxy’ through which wider thoughts and legacies of colonial history are filtered.
This exhibition is supported by Isis Creative Framing.
As Oxford’s largest Picture Framing workshop we wish Clair well with her latest exhibition at the O3 Gallery. With our latest computerized mount cutting equipment we are pleased to support Clair and the wider art community with their projects. Offering a huge range of options for frames and mounts why not visit our website to see everything we do.