Thethais that bind
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.