Feeling Sheepish, Candy Stevens

Opening Friday 4 October 6-8 pm

Exhibition dates: 4-27 October

Introduced to Australian soils through colonisation, the humble sheep has become a leading national export of wool and meat. In its short history, the sheep industry has drastically transformed the Australian landscape, its inhabitants and way of life.

β€œIn Australia on the continental scale, clearing for agriculture and the introduction of sheep, cattle and other animals from the Northern hemisphere have had an environmental effect beside which all else is minor.” (Seddon)

Feeling Sheepish features a selection of new painting and sculptures by Candy Stevens that confront the environmental impact of sheep grazing in Australia. These works build upon a previous series To Market (featuring cow hides) exhibited in 2017, further exploring the complex relationships between agriculture, economics, environment and indigenous culture. In doing so, Stevens continues to reflect on Australian landscape and identity from a post-colonial perspective. Using sheep as her muse, Candy draws upon their iconic Australian status to expose notions of Western idealism and to explore the way the continent has been re-shaped through overgrazing.

β€œI find it ironic that sheep, singular; are shy, innocent herbivores, and yet en-masse they become destructive beasts. They provide warmth, food and gross national income whilst they jackhammer cleared land with their hooves causing environmental devastation, dispossession and species extinction. Feeling Sheepish is my sense of shame around this paradox of attachment and impact that plagues our national pysche and identity. I use puns and playfulness to combine the conceptual and material content to better contemplate our human nature and the paradox revealed in the issues surrounding sheep farming in Australia.”

When it comes to the question of how we personally identify with the national psyche, Candy is interested in developing consciousness. She does this through her art by challenging icons and questioning the established cultural paradigms that they represent in a playful and confronting way, in the tradition of the larrikin.

Are you prepared to feel sheepish? The artist will be in attendance each weekend from 12-5 and invites you to join her in the creation of the installation Country Living, an evolving audience participation humpy being developed in the space, or to come in and have a look around.

Seddon, G 1997, Landprints: Reflections on place and Landscape, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pg 214.

Australia rides on the sheep’s back, Acrylic on canvas, 2018