Take one Outlaw, a heap of photos, a tongue, one cheek and a pinch of sex and violence and you have .. Amusements, a series of larger than life colour photographs based on the legend of Australian outlaw Ned Kelly by Christchurch photographer, Margaret Dawson.
Dawson’s photographs build up dramatic historical scenes drawing from paintings by Sidney Nolan for inspiration. This group of work reworks art, myth, film and story into complicated scenarios about the development of society in (post)colonial countries. The development of the legend, the role of the outlaw and the position of women within the colonial period are layered into the works.
Dawson explores the idea of ‘outlaw’, investigating barriers created through legal and accepted norms. Dawson looks at the boundaries our social conventions and institutions create. She picks up issues for presentation in this humorous ‘home on the range’ exhibition. The models in her photographs are taken from groups on the outskirts of the artworld such as woodturners and potters. The titles of the works are linked to the social scene, of nineteenth century England, where activities such as Riding Out or participation in a shooting party would be part of a gentlewoman’s calendar of activity. The titles translate to contemporary photographs using a colonial subject.
This exhibition looks light-heartedly at the definitions of social roles, built up through institutions and common practice. Amusements opens at the Fisher Gallery on Friday 24 March and will continue until Sunday 23 April. Margaret Dawson will be speaking on her work, Sunday 26 March at 2pm, held at the Fisher Gallery. These works were done while Dawson was on an Arts Council of New Zealand, Toi Aotearoa Fellowship in 1993.
→ Ned Kelly ambushed in the suburbs, 1995
→ Playing games with a legend, New Zealand Herald, 29-03-1995
→ Margaret Dawson: Amusements, 1995, exhibition card