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Joan Ross

Joan Ross is a Scotland-born artist, who currently lives and works in Warrung/Sydney. Her practice investigates the legacy of colonialism in Australia in a bold and experimental way, with a particular focus on reconfiguring the colonial Australian landscape. I Give You A Mountain (2018) is a digital animation referring to a watercolour painted in 1976 by British natual history painter Sarah Stone to immortalise Sir Ashton Lever’s collection of “exotic” birds, antiquities and ethnographic objects. The animation sheds light on the violent practices of classification of wildlife specimens that divorce them from their rightful place in nature and in culture and its continuous destructive effect in the name of preservation. In I Will miss You Copying Things(2018), and Houston, We Have A Problem (2021), the artist revisits historic imageries of birds captured by European settlers as part of the colonial enterprise to claim ownership over a “new land.” Joan digitally altered the images cutting off the birds’ heads and overpainting them with her signature hi-vis yellow that symbolises colonisation and fear. The colour embraces the prints’ elements voicing over them the urgent and the continuous impact of a colonialist mentality on nature. Mixing timelines, medium and artistic style, Joan underscores how these practices are not relegated to the past but instead persist into the present in the face of capitalism, consumerism and environmental crisis.