Sera Waters continues her ancestral exploration into Australia’s colonial history with Dazzleland.
Dazzleland is Waters’ first major exhibition of completely new work since she finished her PhD last year and it is marked by a more experimental approach with the inclusion of textile techniques, including colonial knots and cross-stitch. The exhibition is the next iteration of Domestic Arts, exhibited at ACE Open in 2017, where Waters delved into her family history in order to interrogate the ongoing legacies of colonial homemaking. Dazzleland, which plays on Adelaide’s history with a cheeky reference to the Myer Centre’s infamous amusement attraction of the early 1990s, mostly refers to the Australian mineral booms, which attracted many migrants over many generations, including the artist’s ancestors.
“We have family history in copper mining with family members also heading over to the gold rush,” Waters says. “At the time it was a dazzling new place and I’m interested in the after effects of what it means to take all the resources out without due care.”
With gold, yellow, brown and glittery tones, the exhibition’s palette reflects Australia’s dazzling land as well as its parched, dry environment. For one of the works, (H)armless, Waters has created a wreath made of wooden fabric with small scars similar to the marks left after a branch is chopped from a tree. Waters uses this as a metaphor for what has been lost through the cutting of these lines of history as well as the ecological damage of colonialisation.
Another work, Pelted, is a latch hook rug made from found wool in the shape of a kangaroo pelt. It’s life-size with sunspots on it and could be mistaken for a topographical map reflecting the impact of colonisation on the land. Waters’ ancestors had a sheep farm in the south east so she often explores the repercussions of that farming practice through her work.
While Dazzleland continues Waters’ exploration into colonisation and its after-effects, these works are generally larger and freer in terms of content and material. “I decided not to sit down and plan it all but instead see where it goes, and let it go in its own direction,” she says. “They all have my stamp on them but they are a bit more playful and have a more tongue in cheek vibe.”.