“Made in Australia” is a series of multi-plate lino prints that respond to Australian popular cultural icons such as Ned Kelly, Vegemite, big & small pineapples, the ubiquitous brick veneer, the enduring Hills-hoist and some more.
In the exhibition I take a sideways glance at our “great nation” using colourful prints which blend Pop Art, Modernism and easily recognised cultural, political and environmental references in an irreverent way.

“Jonathon has taken some of the things we all recognise and take for granted as his starting point on an artistic journey that will stimulate new ideas and a few laughs,” said Robert Heather, Director of New England Regional Art Museum. “He takes the viewer on a wild ride through suburbia, regional Australia and our own backyards.”

Made in Australia Morphed out of thinking about icons, iconic brands, places, faces, and ideas. There are a set of predictable images we have of our selves. Images of Holden cars and meat pies may have lost their place at the top of the list as our buying and eating habits evolve. So I drove around Queensland, NSW, ACT, Victoria, South Australia trying to find other ways to look at ourselves. I wanted to use humour, colour, art & political references to add to the conversation.

Road to Broken Hill

Road to Broken Hill

My formative years were spent growing up in Queensland during the 60’s, 70’s & 80’s, where every thing seemed big and belligerent. The Big Cow, Big Pineapple, Big Mower, Big Bee, Big Crab and even big Russ. Russ Hinze was large which seemed to make it ok for him to become the Minister for everything. The big politicians threatened to go south and take over Australia, Joe for PM was the catchphrase. It seemed like we were compensating for our communal sense of inadequacy in the deep North. It is no wonder that these tacky icons were front and center when I started to think about iconic Australia. The glorious kitschiness of popular culture was everywhere.

IMG_3661_LR

Made in Australia

 

In the back of an artists mind there is always the question where do you fit in.
I guess I was looking for a way round post modern endgamism. Post Pop might work. Australia did not seem to do pop very well back in the day.

Pop grew out of an era of rampant post war consumerism and media culture.
As a type of art “Pop” is always with us. Pop art is eternal. It could be argued that Pop never ended… Just got absorbed.

Pop inherited dada, surrealisms ability to shock and social critique, and selectively appropriates pop culture icons. Pop eliminates the hand of the artist to create a mass produced object.

Pop ignored the line that separated high and low art, images of mass consumerism treated like religious icons. Pop exemplified Avant-garde ideal of dissolving boundaries between art and everyday life. It connects with the public through the familiarity of the images being referenced.

It seems that Pop art continues to be a major influence on current art practice. Pop’s underlying appeal seemed to make more and more sense to me as “Made in Australia” evolved. Given that I still have a lot of Australia to explore, there may be more Lino prints “Made in Australia”.

The exhibition “Made in Australia” opened at the New England Regional Art Museum (NERAM) on Friday 19 October 2015.