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Roads Cross: Contemporary Directions in Australian Art

Tobias Richardson
Roads Cross: Contemporary Directions in Australian Art
Installation view, Flinders University City Museum, SA
Image: Flinders University City Museum

‘Tobias Richardson’, Roads Cross: Contemporary Directions in Australian Art

Living in Aboriginal communities for over six years and observing the vibrancy of art making in these places was a source of inspiration for Richardson. At Utopia he developed a prior interest in buildings as subject matter, focusing on the vernacular of local architecture, “tin sheds scattered like iconography in the landscape”1, and their potential to tell stories of human presence or history. In these works Richardson also trialed the idea that an endless pictorial language could be rendered with a single subject, a concept made visible to him - in the recurring ‘yam’ theme for example – in the work of local Aboriginal artists. Living in remote Australia Richardson also developed a keen interest in the possibilities of found objects and discarded materials, and utilized them to produce highly distilled work including painting, drawing, collage, sculpture and installation.

I found masses of old plastic louvers that had been covered in graffiti and yellowed by the desert sun. I assumed that the houses at Aniltji (The Homeland in Utopia I primarily taught at) had recently had the louvers changed by the council. Anyhow these louvers when aligned created perfect backdrops to make paintings on. I did a large series, perhaps 12 works in all. Mostly I teased out an image of the local landscape by altering the ready-made marks, some altered more than others. […] Working out bush, I always found great paintings and objects that the ‘kids’ made and collected them. I was able to see in these discarded works new compositional potential and the transformation of materials and form into ‘new work’ became a major motivation for my practice. 2

Fiona Salmon, 2012

1 Personal correspondence with Fiona Salmon 16 May 2012
2 Personal correspondence with Fiona Salmon 25 April 2012

Source: Fiona Salmon, ‘Tobias Richardson’ (catalogue essay), Roads Cross: Contemporary Directions in Australian Art, Flinders University City Museum, Adelaide, 2012, pp.60-61. Exhibition dates, 29 June – 26 August 2012. Curated by Vivonne Thwaites, Fiona Salmon and Anita Angel.

This text is reproduced with the permission of the Flinders University Art Museum and the author.