‘When I look at the sport of rugby league, I see the body colliding with the earth like barrows in dramatic formations, a repetitive display of rainbow coloured armour, a dance, a singsing of shields that hover before the skin, flesh and bones.
Yuriyal Eric Bridgeman
Weaving together imagery, colours and materials inspired by Bridgeman’s ancestral lineage in Papua New Guinea with those of the rugby league sporting code, A barrow, a singsing is a highly personal work that reverberates with ideas celebration and sorrow; life and death; victory and loss; joy and sadness; flesh and bones; stillness and movement; sport and culture; front and back; colour and darkness; bodies and limbs.
Reimagined by Bridgeman’s installation, the green field of rugby league becomes an interior space: a stage where disputes are played out, where sadness can take over or where victory results in awe and jubilation. And as Bridgeman suggests, ‘there are two sides to a shield. One presents itself as the face of war, designed to project strength and protect in times of conflict. The other carries all of the physical traits and emotional vulnerabilities of being human.’
This major new commission by Australian-Papua New Guinean artist Yuriyal Eric Bridgeman brings together 19 shield paintings with sculpture, photography and installation, to create one of Bridgeman’s most substantial and ambitious bodies of work to date.
Commissioned by Performance Space and HOTA, Home of the Arts as part of a new three-year partnership, A barrow, a singsing is a powerful assertion of personal and cultural strength and vulnerability.
Image: Yuriyal Eric Bridgeman, Shields. Photography Carl Warner