Friday, September 04, 2009

No Place Like Home

Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in.
– Robert Frost, The Death Of The Hired Man
I've travelled a lot for my art. As an Australian-born British citizen, I can travel and work as I please throughout the United Kingdom and most of Europe, as well as Australia and New Zealand. I am welcomed without too much hassle at the borders of India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, China and Japan.
I have also an Australian passport but I don't think of myself as an Australian. The artists who've influenced me most have been European or North American and none of my work echoes, even faintly, an Australian tradition (not even my paintings from Lake Eyre). I feel less of an outsider in London than I do anywhere in Australia.
My boyfriend used to tease me for masculinising my posture and broadening my vowels – pretending, somehow, to be more Australian – in order 'to fit in'. It was something I learnt to do growing up in small, patriarchal rural towns. I adopted it as a survival tactic when I was included with nine middle-aged male artists on a testosterone-amped art expedition to Lake Eyre
, in the Australian outback, when I was in my early twenties.
I think I'll fit in just fine in North America. I have no history there, no close friends, no family ties and since the 2001 Patriot Act, no civil rights. But it's where I've wanted to explore most my whole life. Thanks to the 'net, I've discovered that, in a way that's almost visceral rather than intellectual, Americans 'get' the populist, mythomanic entertainment and advertising references and post-feminist sexual politics of of my enamel painting. They're also open to my much rawer and experimental watercolours and drawings.
Yes, I'll be a foreigner, with less rights than I might have even in Thailand or Cambodia. But wherever I end up, it will feel more like home than here.


sue beyer said...

I like the U.S. more than I thought I would. But I have only been to a couple of the western states so far.

Mona said...

As a 'foreigner' I agree with you, but being older can I just warn you that the old adage of "the grass always being greener on the other side" is unfortunately true!

Ashley Handlin said...

please come to new york! i want to see your work in person :) and when you finalize your tour schedule, please post..

on a side note, i, as an american, have always seen our so called 'freedoms' as a facade more than anything else. we are an extremely repressed and stupid country as a whole. people here graduate college (somehow!) and are still illiterate. and politically, people actually think there is a difference between the democrats and republicans.. the only difference is the colours and mascots they choose, for they are really one and the same. obamas 'change' message made me laugh cynically on the inside. i sincerely hope australians get more good things done with their politics than we do.