The Hanging: Looking at Me Through You

July 7th 2017

Tom Polo, STILL JUST HERE, 2017. Credit Document Photography.

It’s rare to find a contemporary art show that ticks all the boxes. One where every work is not only consistently great, but also nails the curatorial brief. One, that has the same strength of character and layered complexities as the ideas it’s covering; one that is made up of some of Sydney’s best emerging artists…

I’m getting ahead of myself. But it’s only because Campbelltown Arts Centre’s current exhibition ‘looking at me through you’ is worth getting excited about.

I spent a long time in this exhibition, wandering around the gallery with map in hand as if I were happily lost in an unfamiliar neighbourhood. Each room is visually exciting, exploring the stories of Campbelltown residents in innovative and unexpected ways.

As soon as you enter you’re hit by Salote Tawale’s box tower, layered with colourful textiles patterned with ferns and flowers. Small televisions depict Fijian culture, specifically talanoa – the exchanging of stories, as women chat on woven mats eating watermelon and drinking cola. Another screen shows a small fish being scaled in preparation for a shared meal.


Salote Tawale – A yali! A maroroi! Qai kune! 2017. Credit Document Photography.


The contribution from 110% collective (Beth Dillon, Kieran Bryant and Lachlan Herd) looks into leisure time and labours of care and conservation. It’s all about materials and form, combining concrete, synthetic turf and those long white poles synonymous with leisure centres, and depending on your sporting ability – the joyous or painful memories of team sport.

Abdul Abdullah’s portraits depict fantastical faces covered in multiple eyes, mouths and ears, while Mona Ibrahim uses herself as subject in a personal depiction of her history and experiences.  

Shevaun Wright’s work Songlines uses statistics comparing socio-economic advantage by area, to hug the parameter of the room in a clear vinyl strip intersecting first with James Nguyen’s Samsung TV on the floor, then with the splatter of orange paint from Damien Shen’s portraits. While each work has its own unique character, they continue to connect conceptually, geographically and at times physically.


Universal Power House. Courtesy Sonia Leber and David Chesworth.


The only artist without a personal connection to Campbelltown is Perth collective Pet Projects, who depict their brief stay in Campbelltown, offering another perspective from which to think about it. They lure us in with the glow of a neon pink room, but we linger for the offbeat assemblage of shelves mounted with flat screen TVs, exposed wires, large plastic water containers and Furbies (those fluffy, eerily cute toys from the early 2000s).

It’s hard to make sense of Pet Project’s installation, but as someone who has a strong memory of the Furby craze I spent a long time connecting the pieces – in this fragmented way it stays true to an outsider’s fantastical depiction of place.

The title of the exhibition tells us we can learn something about ourselves in others. It’s not just for or about the community of Campbelltown; it’s about all of us and beyond us, providing the layers to think about social and political issues in and outside of the gallery space.  

There is so much packed into this show that’s worth thinking about, talking about and digesting. Grab your gallery map and travel to Campbelltown Arts Centre for this one before it closes. 


WHAT: looking at me through you, Various Artists
WHERE: Campbelltown Arts Centre, 1 Art Gallery Road, Campbelltown
WHEN: Now showing until July 23
HOW MUCH: Entry is free!


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