A Pattern of Extinction


In 1855 Sir Edward Knox, founded CSR (Colonial Sugar Refining Co) and began to construct his mansion ‘Fiona’ in the elite suburb of Woollahara in Sydney, Australia. Woollahra is an Aboriginal word meaning camp, meeting ground or a sitting down place. ‘Fiona’ means ‘pure white’ and sugar when refined turns pure white.

In 1907 Sir Walter Rothschild published a book titled ‘Extinct Birds’. It was an attempt to unite in one volume the birds which have become extinct in historical times or were on the verge of extinction.

Through these two circumstances I perceived a link, a pattern in the act of cessation. A Pattern of Extinction then is conceived as a series of works that are united by a symbolic device. They converge on the shadowy profile of extinct or endangered birds whose shadows appear frozen, stamped or marked upon reclaimed CSR sugar sacks. Or they envelope the entire space of the canvas, presenting us with an interface or a gathering field.

In these new works I consider the relationship of cause and effect in an effort to understand links. They embody re-purposing principles and challenge the possibilities of process. Sugar sacks are stretched upon dismantled timber shipping crates that were also used for exporting and importing goods.

Extinction is presented here through the birds physical absence; only its shadow remains. The checkered arrangement considers the matrix of power relationships, while the painterly appearance is disarmingly deceptive. As abolitionist Wendel Phillips stated in 1852, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”