Genealogical Ghostscapes | Sera Waters [PhD]

11 October – 25 October
Opening event: Thurs, 11 October, 6-8pm
Opening speaker: Professor Kay Lawrence

Artist Talk: Sat, 20 October, 2-3:30pm

Genealogical Ghostscapes is a practice-led response to some of the knots, gaps, touchy spots, shameful secrets, unknowable pasts and ‘ghostscapes’ which plague the history of this colonised country of Australia. Ghostscapes is a term I have created to describe the haunting effects of people upon places, and places upon people, and in turn how these entangled interconnected pasts continue to affect today. This exhibition has grown from research into the tangled threads of my own South Australian settler colonial family archives dating back to 1838, alongside investigations into local and national archived collections and documents. Australian histories are made up of countless messy and confronting tangles, but many of these are hidden away, neatened up, buried or disavowed all together. Rather than continue to deny these pasts, I see my art as contributing to a national movement towards recognition; recognising not only the details surrounding colonisation but acknowledging how the same practices continue today.

Significantly my art, making processes and installations identify the domestic realm as critical to settler colonisation. Despite the long disparagement of “women’s work”, house-keeping – including cleaning, washing, tidying, preparing comforts, decorating and displaying, gardening and more – are settler colonial practices, passed along for generations and enacted to possess and in turn dispossess. My research dwells within these under-scrutinised practices, especially through repetitive textile and home-craft traditions. By reinvoking homely methods, such as embroidery, quilting, or shell collecting, and carrying them out care-fully, I hope to give these colonising inheritances new trajectories into traditions which bring recognition to knotty pasts.

Sera Waters, 2018

Genealogical Ghostscapes is the culmination of Sera Waters’ postdoctoral research (2014-2018). To visit Sera Waters’ website click here.

Read more about Sera Waters in the October issue of ArtGuide Magazine here. 

IMAGE: Sera Waters, Banner of Mine: Cultivation, 2017. Photo by Grant Hancock.