The Art and Work of Fiona Hall

Australian contemporary artist Fiona Hall is known for her multidisciplinary practice which embrace a range of materials, to communicate themes of ecology, natural history, globalisation, consumerism and colonialism into her pieces which aim to function as social statements. Her expanding repertoire encompasses sculpture, painting, installation, photography, garden design and even videos in which she manipulates to centralise on her core concept: the relationship between nature and culture. To bring another dimension of meaning, Hall’s choices in her materials and the methodology is crucial to her art practice as it engages with contemporary Australia life through postmodern means. Such examples include Tender (2006), Paradisus Terrestris (1952) and Occupied Terrirtory (1995).

In one of her works, Occupied Territory (1995), Hall explores the concept of colonialism specifically the Indigenous people of Australia that was impacted upon by the British settlements. The work was commissioned for the Museum of Sydney opening and was the first 3-D beaded work that Hall made.

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This eight piece work consist of 4 indigenous plants and 4 introduced species, a representation of the two different cultures. The native plants are composed of nails and black glass beads whilst the non-native plants are crafted from white as well as scarlet-red glass beads.

Hall intentionally chose the indigenous species from a selection of endemic plants found within the Sydney area to symbolise the Aboriginal communities such as the Acacia and the Banksia. To represent the British settlements and other colonies, she depicts introduced plants such as the Fig and Pear. The materials used for the formation of these sculptures refer to the early 19th century trading commodities which were supposedly trinkets that had mollified the Indigenous people. If observed closely, within the Peach of the introduced plants, a human tooth is used as a replacement for a seed.

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