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Home Gary Carsley with Leanne Tobin and Chifley College Bidwill Campus | Terra inFirma

Gary Carsley with Leanne Tobin and Chifley College Bidwill Campus | Terra inFirma

by Beth Sorensen

Terra inFirma: Sovereignty and Memory launch featuring talks by Leanne Tobin and Gary Carsley


Gary Carsley with Leanne Tobin and twelve Years 9, 11 and 12 students of Chifley College Bidwill Campus, supported by their teachers

Gary Carsley was born in Brisbane on the lands of the Turrbal & Yaggera peoples. Lives and works in Sydney.

Leanne Tobin belongs to Buruburongal and Wamuli clans of the Dharug Nation. Born Waratah, Newcastle. Lives and works in Sydney.

Sight Cite Site, 2020
Substrate Black and White photocopy on variously tinted 80 gsm A4 papers. Overlay colour photocopy on 100 gsm office paper. 5 dressed pine planks wrapped with Black and White photocopy on variously tinted 80 gsm A4 papers and colour photocopy on 100 gsm office paper.

This work purposefully cites sights of first contact sites by joining the commemorative parks established in Malacca, Cebu and Kamay Botany Bay, Sydney into a continuous scene; seen, as an image of nature as culture. One that visualises an equivalence between the subsequent terms “country” and “landscape” and a correspondence between the colonial experience here and elsewhere. In an Australian Art historical context, the ‘settlement landscape’ tradition, from John Glover to the Heidelberg School, is exposed as a palimpsest. In Western studies, a palimpsest is a surface from which an earlier text has been effaced, erased, washed or scraped off so that a new text can be superimposed on the still visible traces of an earlier text. In a palimpsest the first or original text continually reasserts itself.

Sight Cite Site is a multivocal work developed with the participation of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students at Chiefly College Bidwill Campus. The students inscribed their identities within Sight Cite Site by alternating their contributions between the image’s otherwise identical positive and negative layers. The unique capacity of this work to host multiple concurrent histories allows Sight Cite Site to acknowledge first nations voices by harmonising or speaking with them, not over them. It links the enactment of coloniality in Australia’s to that of our region, arguing that the common narrative of the great navigator’s arrival followed by a first fleet of heavily armed dispossessors is a shared one. Penned hundreds of years before Cook and in a language other than English. Sight Cite Site was concluded with a ceremony on 4 September, led by Dharug artist, Leanne Tobin, in which 5 landscape planks were reconciled to the image without disrupting the pictorial order that already existed within it.


Gary Carsley has a special interest in the hand made as a sight of resistance to uniformity and as a way of renegotiating the digital and virtual.  He combines painting and drawing with more recent digital and immersive technologies to produce complex spatial environments.

Carsley’s work has been exhibited extensively around Australia and the rest of the world, with solo exhibitions including The Garden of Dr. Con Fabulator,  Visual Arts Centre of New Jersey, Summit, US (2015): Gary Carsley: Sciencefictive, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane; Kunstverein Ulm, Germany (2014); Gardenesque, Torch Gallery, Amsterdam; Gary Carsley: Sub/Dub, Breenspace, Sydney (2012); The Garden of the Forking Paths,Galerie Sabine Schmidt, Cologne, Germany (2011); fiction_non_fiction, Margaret Thatcher Projects, New York, US (2010); Scenic Root, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia (2007); Looking at Works of Art in the Light of Other Works of Art, Artspace, Sydney (2006)

Selected group exhibitions include The National: New Australian Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney (2017); Patternation, Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre, Sydney (2015); It’s Timely, Blacktown Art Centre, Sydney (2014); Logical Expressions and Variations, Margaret Thatcher Projects, New York, US; Against the Grain, Museum of Arts and Design, New York, US (2013); There Was A World Once, Märkisches Museum, Witten, Germany; Lie of the Land, Australian Embassy Washington, US (2012); Interior Motives, Griffith University Art Gallery, Brisbane (2011)

Carsley’s work is held in the collection of numerous public institutions throughout Australia and worldwide, including Het Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Arnhem, Netherlands; The National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; The National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.

Born 1957 Brisbane, Queensland. Lives and works Sydney, New South Wales.

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