Installation view, The 1818 Project, Newcastle Art Gallery 
Using fire to flesh out the fraud, 2018.
Found painting, projection, charcoal, scorched school desk
dimensions variable
Using fire to flesh out the fraud is a response to the problematic nature of archival systems when laced with deception and celebrated as historical fact. Two hundred years ago this nation of nations was being turned upside down by the arrogating influence of colonial societies, western philosophies and institutional approaches to discipline and education. Convicts, settlers and self-professing pioneers continued, demarcating time in a linear fashion and recording events for a new national agenda while reporting back to the empire on the state of progress and the measure of results. Around this time the work of one convict artist named Joseph Lycett was co-opted by the commandment of captain James Wallis, this appointment laid the foundation for Lycett’s work to form part of the national archive in Australia. Lycett’s work has since become part of educational curriculums; his is a contribution that constitutes an authoritative route by which we come to know the past.​​​​​​​
Installation view as exhibited in The Ramsay Art Prize, 2018. The Art Gallery of South Australia
Using fire to flesh out the fraud is a work that undermines such authoritative lessons about history and challenges the archival approach in relation to western education where oral narratives and First Peoples cultural practices are mismatched with the role of absentee. The function of the archive in this instance fails to achieve inclusive ways of learning by prioritising the context and structures akin to the colonial perspective. Our national archive tells ‘his-story’ while traditional cultural practices are left to fight for a platform upon which to speak. This work undermines this system of archives and institutional educational models by subverting the relics found within them. An upturned and burnt out old school desk deposes the constraints of discipline relative to the classroom environment and focuses on learning through the traditional cultural practice of making fire. The charcoal from the burnt out desk is used to create a temporal demarcation of time by tallying up the years of institutional violence through the discipline of western education. The flames that engulf the not-so-rare Lycett-esque painting are a visual representation for the creation of shared cultural knowledge; a burning sensation that also questions the relevance of archival systems when faced with the catastrophic consequences of climate change. Using fire to flesh out the fraud illuminates the problematic nature of the archive when unaccompanied by oral histories and traditional cultural practices to aid the communication of shared collective experience.