Thethais that bind

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Art - Tanya Macnaughton

THIRTY-YEAR-OLD artist Nathan Beard does not think his ca­reer tra­jec­tory war­rants him be­ing fea­tured as the first WA Fo­cus artist for 2017 but those at the Art Gallery of WA be­lieve other­wise.

The 2010 Curtin Univer­sity grad­u­ate, who works in Clare­mont, has mainly ex­hib­ited in Bangkok and Syd­ney and said he was grate­ful to have the op­por­tu­nity to show his deeply per­sonal works at home.

“A lot of my work deals with the fact that I have a Thai mother and an Aus­tralian fa­ther,” Beard said.

“It’s about pick­ing apart this idea of cul­ture that’s in­her­ited and cre­atively deal­ing with a slip­page be­tween the two forms of iden­tity; us­ing a range of medi­ums and ma­te­ri­als to com­mu­ni­cate.”

Cen­tral to the ex­hi­bi­tion are a haunt­ing se­ries of por­traits, mainly of de­ceased rel­a­tives, found in his mother’s aban­doned home in Nakhon Nayok, Thai­land.

Beard has em­bel­lished the pho­to­graphs with crys­tals, tak­ing in­spi­ra­tion from a range of dif­fer­ent sources in­clud­ing Thai folk draw­ings, Thai silk pat­terns, fash­ion run­way in­flu­ences and mo­bile phone cov­ers.

“It’s about pix­e­lat­ing those dif­fer­ent de­signs and then reap­ply­ing them to th­ese found pho­to­graphs; this idea of en­coun­ter­ing bi­og­ra­phy or legacy of fam­ily his­tory and want­ing to use a de­tailed driven process to build a re­la­tion­ship there,” he said.

“No one had been in the house for about 20 years and get­ting to see ev­ery­thing on the walls was like en­ter­ing into a time cap­sule; it was an eerie dis­place­ment of time.

“One of the pic­tures is of my mum when she was quite young and my ma­ter­nal grand­mother, who I don’t re­mem­ber much about apart from her funeral.

“I was con­fronted by th­ese decades of his­tory that have been col­lapsed and then used that aban­doned house site as a cre­ative in­spi­ra­tion.”

The WA Fo­cus ex­hi­bi­tion is on un­til May 28 with a free artist talk on Satur­day, April 8 at 3pm.

Beard said the talk would be a good op­por­tu­nity for sel­f­re­flec­tion and looked for­ward to field­ing lots of ques­tions.

Nathan Beard poses in front of some por­traits of his rel­a­tives.

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