Rachel Joy
UnAustralian: Weathervane
Steel, colourbond roofing steel
This work is an inquiry into Australian notions of heroes and villains. It explores the meaning of a hidden face; masks like these are usually won by criminals, klansmen or other terrorists to conceal their identity or by hostages, when the masks become hoods, and the intention is disorient the wearer. In questioning ideas of heroes and villains I encountered that concept which Australians so love to identify with: the 'underdog'. Ned Kelly was a classic underdog but today who could represent the underdog better than the burka-clad woman? Black is used in the work as a unifying colour but is also most often the colour of burkas. Both symbols occupy the same plane thus avoiding a hierarchy of metalanguage. Corrugated metal is a material very strongly associated with Australian housing and its use is a conscious allusion to the collective unconscious at work in Australian notions of nation-building and national identity. The use of a modern profile in the corrugated steel places the work firmly in a contemporary context. The choice to represent these symbols in the form of a weather vane refers to both 'the winds of change' and the idea of a barometer of public sentiment. The work asks the viewer to think about ideas of heroes and villains in an Australian context and who we might assign to these categories.