The last words you would find in any review on Rosie Deacon’s exhibitions would be ‘bland’ or ‘boring’. The New South Wales artist makes every show a spectacle in its own right, and Cockatoo Cavern Fever – currently on exhibition at Perc Tucker Regional Gallery – is no exception.
“The artwork in this exhibition is intended to transport the audience into a playful alternate reality, a fantastical world,” Rosie said. “This sets in motion my broader interest in Australian tourism, promotion, and kitsch, the materiality of space and environments.”
Rosie draws a lot of influences from her upbringing and the playfulness of Australian souvenirs.
“Born in Nyngan and growing up in regional communities such as Bathurst and Wagga Wagga, I have been influenced to create a strong community-engaged craft practise. My parents’ house is filled with tapestries my Mum has stitched, many with a prize ribbon hanging over the frame from the annual Nyngan Show. My Dad has an inside and outside bar, full of Aussie pub paraphernalia. I would walk around the farm with my Grandmother, finding interesting branches and seed pods that we crafted into willy wagtail wall hangings.
“Making a welcoming home and making gifts for people was a big part of my upbringing. Decorating the home, country craft classes at the local sewing store; Country fetes and street stall sales. This combined with family holidays to Manly Beach, seeing the humour of tourism in souvenir shops.”
This history of home crafts has led in part to upcycling featuring consistently in Rosie’s work.
“I like to use ‘everyday junk’ and easily accessible materials to create pieces that blur the lines between contemporary art, craft and jewellery practise. I reflect on the incorporation of native flora and fauna into promotional paraphernalia and festival imagery through the 70s, 80s and beyond, celebrating Australiana kitsch.”
Following the launch of Cockatoo Cavern Fever, Rosie ran public workshops in the gallery space, with participants contributing to the exhibition and making it grow.
“I have loved meeting and chatting with people coming in to the exhibition, particularly about how materials remind them of something, and have been enjoying learning more about the flora and fauna of the Townsville area through visitors stories and experience.
“It was amazing to work with Ken Wallace (HairBy Ken) and Cassie Harris (@cmhartistry) transforming myself and a flock of the gallery staff into wild birds for the opening night of the exhibition, too!
“I aim to playfully encourage viewers to step outside their daily reality into a space of play.”
Catch Rosie Deacon’s Cockatoo Cavern Fever exhibition at Perc Tucker Regional Gallery until 16 June.