Jason Wing is an artist with a lots of stories to tell, and he does in an incredibly innovative way by repurposing everyday objects and imagery to create art that is emotive and confronting. We spoke with Jason about his art as he prepares for his forthcoming exhibition at the Manning Regional Art Gallery from 6 June to 21 July
Can you give us a bit of an insight into your background and how it has influenced your art journey?
I am a descendent of the Biripi mob, but I was born and raised on Gadigal / Dharug land.
Basically, my life is my background, and it is my art journey as well. My art serves as a medium for me to educate, or offer an alternative perspective, and my hope is that through empathy and visual communication, I might influence people and their prejudices.
I also have a heritage that includes Chinese and Scottish, and my artworks explore and reflect that.
At the moment, I am particularly inspired by the qualities of water combined with Eastern knowledge teachings and intergenerational archives of resistance, as well as my rare plant collection.
How would you describe your art / what genre do you identify most with (if any)?
In my experience, there is a vast spectrum of art and mediums and process orientated art practice. My art is combination of multi-disciplinary and multi-dimensional visual challenges, often reflecting social justice issues as a conceptual thread. I sometimes start with the idea and let it flow intuitively, allowing it to move and rise like water until created in that point in time.
My artworks tend to focus primarily on Aboriginal challenges. The reason I make that a focus is that I feel like through my art I am able to provide an opportunity to facilitate social change now.
What inspires you most as an artist?
Life inspires me. Nature, society, traveling, taking risks, ancestors, water, snake people, influencing social change…
I also believe that my lived experience is a valuable form of knowledge to share and inspire the next generation of Aboriginal people and supporters. We are story tellers. I like to tell stories from an Aboriginal perspective to inform and translate to non-Aboriginal people who are in positions of power to action socal change.
Artworks are archives for future generations to critique the past, present, and future challenges experienced by Aboriginal people. I see my works as kinesthetic cultural archieves for sharing knowledge/stories.
What’s been the most challenging artwork you’ve ever created and why?
The most challenging art work was “Captain James Crook“ – a bronze bust of Captain James Cook with a bronze Balaclava on his head, for which I also received the NSW Parliamentary Prize, 2012. As a result of this work I received death threats, hate email, trolling, shock jocks talk bait, potential lawsuits including being accused of defaming Captain Cook’s “good” name and more…
But… in all honesty, it was worth it! … and I will not stop.
Is there any particular work that you’re most proud of? If so, why?
I feel like that is yet to come… most of the works that I am proud of are those that not many people have seen or experienced. Blacktown Arts Centre developed the“ Native Institute Project“ curated by Brook Andrew and others. Shortly before the opening I was guided to write the ages, names and heights on the inside door frame of the first wave of children who were forcibly removed from their families and home – something that was sanctioned by the State. The ongoing relevence is highlighted in the recent Channel 7 Sunrise protest against the active mis-information and media manipulation to disempower and demonise Aboriginal people. Unfortunately, these works are still relevent more then ever because now we are seeing highest rate of problematic Aboriginal child removal.
Another I’m proud of was an artwork which was displayed at the Kandos Cementa Festival. For this one off exhibition (which was held in a C.1800 church) I created a sonic narrative of the men in black and assimilation through cockatoo recordings from site specific locations. This was about a fight or flight moment where a parent is presented with a decision… whether to potentially die trying to rescue their child from a Native Institute or die a slow death of losing their child to State sanctioned removal.
I’ve just completed a really big Gadigal mural collaboration with (ADC) Australian Design Centre and the City of Sydney Council in Kings Cross which will be launched in late May, and I’ve just been approved for a large scale Aboriginal War Memorial on Parramatta River Dharug land (in Parramatta).
Where to next?
As a result of this exhibition, I have been inspired to create a new body of work specifically about Country – it’s like getting to know country, and the experience that that brings to inform my cultural practice. For instance, we’re aiming to make a bark canoe – something I’m very excited about – and I want to paddle it down the Manning River… the water will remember the wood…
Coming up – I am exhibiting the Captain Cook bust at MONA, Hobart this June – https://mona.net.au/stuff-to-do/simon-denny-mine – as well as in Milan at the Italian Contemporary Art Gallery.
How do people get in touch with you, or find out more information about your art?