Property is Theft

Exhibition dates: Tue 11 to Sat 22 June 2013
View the artworks


11 – 22 June 2013

Two weeks only


Tim Burns, the legendary figure in the history of Australian underground art, returns with a new series of work after his critically acclaimed survey show at Tin Sheds, Sydney University.

“He rose to notoriety in the early 1970s with a series of (literally) explosive art actions, before decamping to New York, where he remained, on and off until the mid-1990s… Rather than identifying as a painter, filmmaker, karaoke videographer, installation artist, theatre director or performer (although he has done all these and more), Burns calls himself ‘a context artist’. What unites the hugely varied set of projects Burns has worked on over the last forty years is a constant desire to set up situations which critically reflect on our hypermediated, industrialised western society.”


This exhibition sees Burns making sense of his immediate environment, his home in Western Australia. He returns with a suite of paintings which will be a first for Sydney.

“This is a series of images that are generated in order for me to come to terms or try and understand the implications of a significant ‘found object’ which I acquired, a granite quarry in Gwambygine. It is surrounded by the Gwambygine Aboriginal Corporation, Western Australia, which contains the male initiation cave site for the Balla[r]dong people.

To the European invaders it was known as ‘Dales Cave’ after Ensign Dale discovered it and the Avon River on the first European inland expedition over the escarpment into the West Australian wheatbelt in 1829.

In simple terms my point of view is that the quarry metaphorically represents the relationship between white and black in this country where large auditoriums have been geometrically sliced out of one of the most sacred Aboriginal ceremony sites in the  ‘Balla[r]dong’ tribal country; where the organic is overthrown by the geometric. It also represents the major aspect of  ‘white waste’ with 180,000 tons of rock cut into blocks and which  is piled up at the bottom of the hill.

Indigenous stories surrounding the quarry/sacred site complex are challenged by the material dreaming of the ‘new custodians’.  The sometimes conflicting stories – part warning, part self fulfilling prophecy – centre around the exploitation of the site and the consequential (or coincidental) death, storms, fires and various mishaps that I have witnessed in my time at the quarry.

I find a hand constructed visual representation – sketching or the act of painting – generates greater connection to and understanding of the profound beauty and tragedy of the landscape”.