This series of work continues Hoffie’s ongoing focus on the nature of work, a focus that has continued for three decades as part of the Fully Exploited Labour theme. In this new body of work the artist has constructed and painted a small ‘hi-vis’ army of men, fifteen hand-made and hand painted, each of them wearing uniforms of one of the manufacturing companies recently faced with closure in Australia.
The artist has said:
“The series developed when I started thinking a bit more about the changing nature of the Australian work-force…thinking about these vintage, hand-made DIY ‘dumb waters’ that still crop up now and then in antique shops and bric-a-brac collections. There’s a casual domestic racism about them that’s chilling.
They’re works that were made by back-yard handymen – by everyday Joes using up a bit of left-over pine and paint so they could make something serviceable: a little hall-stand to hold the ash-tray. You don’t have to be a political brain-box to realise the connections between the facts that that these little men were always waiting to serve, were always dressed in livery, and were always black. In the twenty-first century they might seem quaint – even appealing – a reminder of how things were, and an assurance that since the time these ‘dumb waiters’ were made, things have changed… Instead of livery, I dressed each of them in the standardised uniform of ‘the worker’ in Australia – high-vis orange and blue with reflector strips”
The installation is both humorous as well as unsettling, and raises questions about the changing nature of work, values and identity in Australia… “little effigy’s for the workers that had built the reputations of the products that have, in many instances, become closely associated with Australian identity.” The fifteen sculptures whilst installed as an installation on a large wall will be available individually. Gallery Director Michael Eather is excited to be showcasing Hoffie’s second commercial exhibition with the gallery “particularly showing these quirky yet provocative images alongside other thought provoking Indigenous art!”
Exhibition Opening: 16th September, 6:00 – 8:00pm
Image: Pat Hoffie – Yakka and King Gee (2016). Acrylic on timber, 91x42x21.