Cast by the Sun: A Prelude

Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland, is a place stranger than fiction. This state is where “Crocodile Dundee”1 originated and is home to Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo. It is hot and muggy, punctuated by swaying palms and tropical cyclones. On land, Queensland accommodates some of the world’s deadliest spiders and snakes. And then there is the water. Growing up in a reef town in North Queensland, I was horrified by our newspapers that were regularly splashed with images of swimmers’ bodies laced with box jellyfish welts, followed by advice to wear pantyhose when taking a much-needed dip in the ocean.2 Despite these frightening realities, one of Queensland’s most memorable tourist slogans was “Beautiful One Day, Perfect the Next”. Cast by the Sun ruptures the artificial veneer of Brisbane’s supposedly trouble-free tropical perfection to look at its darker underside. The premise of this exhibition is to investigate the role of place in artistic practice. More specifically, is there an assumption that place in art is somehow more evident in photographic form? This question is presented in relation to the oeuvre of four artists—Ray Cook, Martin Smith, Bruce Reynolds, and Amy Carkeek. Prior to providing accounts of the artists’ practice, the following outlines Brisbane’s recent political history and shares views on Brisbane cultural identity.