Gold Coast City Art Gallery is delighted to host Full Circle-Recent work by John Dahlsen, one of Australia's leading contemporary artists, and winner of the prestigious Wynne Prize for Landscape in 2000. John Dahlsen's work is constructed from the rubbish and detritus accumulated by the artist on long explorative walks along the beach near his home in Byron Bay.
In return for being allowed to collect the driftwood he used to construct unique furniture, Dahlsen made an agreement with National Parks and Wildlife Service that he would collect the rubbish on the beach at the same time. Instead of disposing of it however, he kept the garbage and returned to his studio and began the process of separating and sorting the pieces of plastic and foam into colour groups. Eventually he noticed that what he had done was to create a palette of colours that could be used to produce an artwork, in the form of framed cross-sections of shapes that represent the landscape, and large sculptures.
The process of a morning walk scouring the dunes, rocks and sand for tiny pieces of plastic, foam and other non-biodegradable debris became a performance in itself - the endless search for and cataloguing of the detritus of everyday human life. In Dahlsen's studio foam containers are stacked and marked with their contents, 'yellow plastic', 'white foam', 'blue bottle tops'. This collection of discarded items are his tubes of paint waiting for the right time to be used.
Catch, a work comprised of a large fishing net, the sort that may be guilty of catching dolphins, is full of Coke bottles, perhaps one of the defining symbols of contemporary consumerism. World Time is the closest that Dahlsen comes to representing a landscape. An aerial view of green coastal fringe can be seen with an oil slick emanating from the shore. Although the coastal green is made of green plastic, it could almost be the Daintree rainforest.
Dahlsen's winning work from the 2000 Wynne Prize for Landscape, Thong Totem is an ode to the enduring Australian land and ocean scapes. The five sombre totems of washed up thongs celebrate the treading of feet upon the land, each thong with a personal story attached. Conversely the roughened rubber, worn straps and faded colour are a testament to the power of the ocean. The work in Full Circle reflects the last four years of the artist's practice and offers a unique opportunity to view his practice as an evolving process.
Thong Totem, 2000
Winner 2000 Wynne Prize