Tradition of Hope
for Stringer Prize at John Curtin Gallery
On the eve of the 1951 referendum to ban the Communist Party, my grandfather buried his political literature. In this artwork, the story is told through the aesthetics of William Morris, a 19th century artist who combined medievalism with a communist ethos. Though Morris' work seems archaic today, it represents an idealised conception of communism which still appeals in contrast to the brutality of the 20th century.
During my grandfather's life, this sort of radical politics declined and nearly disappeared in Australia. By the time of my own upbringing, it was only ever presented as quaint or ironic. In the making of this artwork, I aimed to recover this familial and social tradition, to rehabilitate my grandfather's understanding of communism – utopian, but moral, hopeful, and experimental.
Made for the 2021 Stringer Prize and exhibited at John Curtin Gallery at Curtin University, Perth.