Mustering the Boys from the Bush

Acclaimed artists Mervyn Street and Robert Hannaford will work on Abstracted Muster, a project curated by Wes Maselli of Mangkaja Arts.

These artists, from very different backgrounds, have been invited to collaborate and depict a ‘muster’ – cattle, horses, and stockmen. The collaborative work will be displayed at the Adelaide Central School of Art as part of TARNANTHI.

The brief is to create a moving scene of figures across the gallery’s walls. The walls will be prefabricated into a hexagonal shape and have a pre-drawn abstract line running through them.

“The artists have been asked to depict figures negotiating this path, moving as one, from point A to point B,” Maselli says. “Those are the only constraints, though I doubt you will see any elephants on the walls.”

Maselli has known Hannaford for nearly 20 years and met Street in 2014 when he started working at Mangkaja Arts. While it might seem like an odd pairing, the two artists share some similarities: they both grew up in the bush. They may have had different experiences of the bush, but it’s something that has influenced both artists’ work.

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Mervyn Street

“Moreover, the two men are the same age, and practice the same genre, so it seems natural to bring them together,” Maselli says. “They speak the same language. Essentially these men have quite a lot in common, they are extraordinary artists and this project celebrates that.”

While the outcome of the project is still unknown and difficult to predict, the collaboration of an artist with a colonial background and one of Indigenous heritage will no doubt raise notions of reconciliation.

“The project challenges the audience to rethink ideas of abstraction and figuration,” Maselli says. “They are not mutually exclusive things, and we can think about cultures or subcultures in the same way.”

Abstracted Muster
Adelaide Central School of Art
Wednesday, October 11 to Friday, October 27
acsa.sa.edu.au

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