De-Integration (2022)

Inaugural Beechworth Contemporary Art Prize 2022. I came straight from QLD and began work on this monumental piece on the grounds surrounding the old Beechworth prison. From the statement:

For the old administrators of HM Prison Beechworth, the usual means of control were locks, bars, wire stone and its panopticon. But the need to exert control extended to the grid-like rigidity of the prison’s layout and its grim expanses of grey concrete and muted yellow stone. Perfect colours to reinforce its historical program of discipline and punishment.

Since the building is now a listed historical site, there is no chance that any of these elements can be altered. It remains forever more a monument to what it was along with its razor wire, cameras, bars and locks. The only thing I can do as a painter is create a strong ephemeral counterpoint using its lawns as a canvas. 

For this reason my design emphasizes lurid primary colours and loose organic shapes; anything to disrupt the oppressive expanses of the grey and brown walls that frame it.

I want my response to the site’s history to be explicit. De-Integration instead of Re-Integration. I want to obscure HM Prison Beechworth’s legacy and the dead hand of authority by introducing, if only for a week or so, a wild expanse of colour and line. An act that is almost an affront to its former role as a prison but an affirmation of the act of painting and the complex’s potential future as a creative hub.