Fiona Foley

Fiona Foley born in 1964 in Maryborough is of Australia’s most significant visual artists. Foley has a heroic ability to communicate powerful ideas and concepts through elegant, understated and sometimes, humorous artistic expressions. Her aim she says is to uncover or recover Aboriginal histories. In her final year as a student at Sydney’s College of Fine Arts a sculpture of Foley’s titled Annihilation of the Blacks (1986) was acquired by the National Museum of Australia. Since then, Foley’s works have been collected by art museums around Australia and internationally including the British Museum, the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, The University of Virginia, Charlottesville, USA, the National Gallery of Australia, National Museum of Australia, the State Galleries in Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, and Brisbane, as well as the Australian National University, Bond University, University of New South Wales, Curtin University of Technology, Flinders University, Griffith University, La Trobe University, Monash Gallery of Art, Murdoch University Art Collection, Queensland University of Technology, University of Queensland, University of Southern Queensland as well as corporate and private collections.

Fiona Foley a Badtjala woman whose country is Fraser Island works across media from photography, sculpture and installation, printmaking and video. She is particularly known for her large scale and arresting public art works like Witnessing to Silence Brisbane Magistrates Court 2004, Black Opium State Library of Queensland 2006, Redfern Park Playground 2008, and Sugar Cubes Mackay 2009 (and there are many more). The gouache and graphite works Flotsam and Jetsam #16, 2011 and Flotsam and Jetsam #22, 2011 form a contrast to many of Foley’s works in scale and medium, though not necessarily in content. These flotsam and jetsam are mangrove seedpods from Fraser Island, the symbolic and metaphoric source of much of Foley’s work. However flotsam and jetsam have a derogatory use as well, often directed towards Aboriginal people. While appreciating the delicate beauty of the rendered painted forms indeed washed up on the beaches of Fraser Island, we are immediately confronted with the connotation of flotsam and jetsam meaning objects cut adrift, often as worthless matter.

Flotsam and Jetsam #16
2011
Gouache and graphite on Arches paper
31 × 41 cm
116 Boundary St
West End
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