Searching through an ocean of tidal waves for you is an exhibition that honours the artist’s ongoing desire to connect with South Sea Island culture and to create a sense of connection to her ancestral heritage. Shari’s work is informed by deeply reflecting on childhood memories and delving into the historical contexts of the South Sea Island migration. The title “searching through an ocean of tidal waves for you” metaphorically describes the artist’s desire to discover ancestral trees in an attempt to explore her cross-cultural identity. There is a parallel in the words ‘tidal waves’ as they can be destructive, just as the aftermath of slavery was and still is for her people. Shari uses a variety of mediums such as weaving, painting and video works with text to reflect on her own memories and experiences of displacement between her family home town in Mackay and Brisbane. There is an ongoing sense of loss from the artist where a large part of her childhood is replaced with the hustle and bustle of Brisbane and needing to adapt to its culture.
Shari Elise Dillon (b.1989) is a multidisciplinary artist living and working in Meanjin (Brisbane). Her artistic practice explores self-identity, drawing from a cross-cultural childhood as the daughter of a white Australian father and South Sea Islander mother, as well as her experiences as a woman, a mother and now the creator of her own family. This body of work also speaks to how vivid experiences sit alongside a haze of memories. Materials and methods are juxtaposed. Traditional weaving techniques sit against contemporary collage. Photographs of reflective water, scatter bright rays of sunshine, while transparent textiles di use an ethereal light, through watery blue dye. The creative process of art-making serves a therapeutic means for the artist to rediscover and revive a culture which was suppressed and silenced during her formative years. This belief in art therapy extends to her work as an artist educator, running workshops for Micah Projects, a charitable organisation supporting people in need, from all walks of life. Shari Elise Dillon graduated from the Queensland College of Art in 2016, since which time her artistic achievements have included exhibitions at Outerspace Ari, Knox Street Window and Uralla Regional Library.
With a unique vision and commitment to exploring cultural identity, her powerful voice in contemporary art exemplifies a generation who aren’t afraid to reconcile the past.