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'A Boy's Look'... behind the scenes 1

...a back-story on the artwork 'A Boy's Look', from the exhibition 'HE, SHE,THEY'.

(Bunbury Biennale 2021, Bunbury Regional Art Gallery )

Colour blindness is a boy's thing, and so too, it seems, are dinosaurs. Bet they never knew that. For the artwork 'A Boy's Look', I'm putting the first dots of enamel paint onto the discs. I'm copying the colours from Ishihara plates used to determine this male affliction...

Dr Shinobu Ishihara developed these ingenious plates in 1917 and over a century later, they are still used ... and like many things Japanese, they are exquisite works of art ...

I'm aiming for spot-on colour mixing in matching the colours in the Ishihara plates for my dinosaurs. Fortunately, I passed all the test plates with flying colours, but perception is fluid ...

Numbers become dinosaur shapes on the enameled mdf discs - I'm using stencils to determine what goes where.

Enamel paint was chosen because of it's reinforcement of gender stereotypes. Nail polish in glorious shades of pinks for girls. And for this boy in particular, enamels equate to my childhood painting my model kits; military greens and 'boy's colours', but more on that in the next post.

The stencil shapes seen here are directly taken from pictures of dinosaurs from my treasured 'How and Why Wonder Book of DINOSAURS'. As a child in the 1970's, I would read this cover to cover, top to bottom, inside and out... Interestingly, as I read the text now, I note for the first time that all dinosaurs are 'he'. No girl dino's. Wonder why they died out?

Looking back now, these beasts also look hopelessly out of date. Yes, we instantly recognise them, but more as a symbol, an idea of 'dinosaur'.

This popular but antiquated view had changed by the time I ventured into paleo-art as an adult, around the same time the Jurassic Park movies came out in the 1990's. My foray into that field gave me an insider's peek into the science behind these revolutionary shifts. The classic clumsy dinosaurs had morphed: sleeker, faster, smarter. Likewise, audiences accepted change. Dinosaur tails no longer dragged on the dirt, and we were fine with that. Language had shifted (eg: Brontosaurus became Apatosaurus), and somehow we mammals adapted, coped, became smarter...

The beasts within my book were lumped into two categories, two eternally opposed camps: the plant-eaters and the meat-eaters. No ambiguity, that's how and why it was.

Early on in the piece, my ideas for the artwork zoomed in on this strict notion of duality. A way of tying into the exhibition theme 'He, She, They' and its challenging exploration of gender issues, particularly the concept of binary and 'non-binary'.

When I was a kid, I was completely oblivious that someone may not identify with either male or female. Inconceivable. However, biological and other justifications for what is 'natural' fall apart when the core issue really is whether some people should suffer for the sake of convenience and conformity. We humans are capable of changing our perceptions.


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