Sharks and Shamans

Wes Maselli, John Prince Siddon

Curated by Emilia Galatis
A Shaman acts as an intermediary between our world and the spirit world, the magic in nature and the illusory in being. He is a healer, a person who conducts ceremonial rituals, a leader. The shaman’s focus is on man’s connection to nature and the well being of all parts of creation, within a network of interconnected worlds. A shark is emergent from nature, a totem, an emblem, a topic of fear, a man-eater, a ‘true blue’, navigating the realms of watery unknowns.

Searching blindly for an Australian identity through a mass of adopted, borrowed and appropriated symbols and iconic stereotypes, we glimpse at ourselves, trying to work out who we are. In a rapidly changing world, we struggle to make meaning within our own borders, and within the borders of our own selfhood. These explorations and reflections have never been so salient. In quiet corners, we all do things differently. Teetering between worlds of the sublime and the familiar; embodied within the clenching jaws of old tropes, disguised behind a wit of incongruous worlds; this show invites you to enjoy yourself, take a look into these mirrors, imbued with satire, humour and worlds of agitating politics and simply enjoy yourself!

Informed by cross-cultural relationships, creative influence, stereotype, tradition and the continuing impact of modernity in a speculative post-modern world, the work of John ‘Prince’ Siddon and Wes Maselli explore mystic encounters, firmly entrenched in the Australian terrain. Together they present intersecting and diversionary narratives about what it means to exist within an ‘Australian’ way of life, whilst also drawing upon current conversations and offering personal journeys into alternative landscapes, both physically and metaphysically.

Cross-disciplinary artist Prince Siddon from Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley fuses unique found items to create myriad objects, bedazzled with adornment, these object possess a sincerity in subject, and in physicality taking on a somewhat ornamental quality. They are all that is familiar, yet upon second inspection, take you deep into worlds of the unfamiliar, the absurd and sometimes disturbing. His compositions offer diligent craftsmanship and formal playfulness, emanating sorcery, virtue and profound insight.

Both aggressive and beautiful, these depictions of creation beings, animals and warriors often portray a battle of opposing forces. These mythical yet informed power plays mirror the work of Wes Maselli where uncanny representations explore global pace, cultural displacement and comrade-ism with a ‘no worries’ attitude. Both artists dance around each other and with each other, masculinely unaware, yet the work that emerges from this mateship is affectionate, reflexive and cultural on multiple levels. Borrowing repetitive practices and stylistic formulas from Kimberley boab nut carving, Prince and Wes reinvent themselves through repetition, harnessing contemporary carving techniques in experimental mediums, which resonate of call, echo, exchange and mediation.

Better the devil you know when it comes to tall poppies, this exhibition invites you to start a conversation, with your selfhood, with your communities and with all you consider as truth in a world of contradictions. Sharks and Shamans explores unique Australian narratives, divergent practices, and challenging interrogations of collective and personal identities that engage in dialogue with our own preconceived notions of who we are as ‘Australians’.

Arlink Review