Artist’s impact near and far
Local artist takes it to the streets
LOCAL ARTIST Tim Read has been driven to protest the treatment of refugees on Nauru, and he has done it through the medium of sculpture.
“Our government has been fighting in the courts against bringing sick children into this country — and when they are finally ordered to bring them to the mainland these kids are at deaths door,” he said.
Tim said he felt for the children suffering from a syndrome where they are uncommunicative and not eating, because they are being held in detention with no hope of release in sight.
“I was so frustrated that our politicians are doing this, and I thought ‘what can I do?,’ well I can do something at least through my artwork,” Tim said.
So, following his epiphany, Tim stayed up late into the night and produced A Postcard from Nauru, which he installed at Eltham Square in late August.
“Within a couple of hours of it going in people had started to put cards and flowers around it,” he said.
Not everyone was pleased about the installation, Tim’s Facebook page, Tread Sculpture receiving angry messages outraged at his protest, and other’s using the installation to refute Tim’s claims of ill-treatment.
“One person put a printout from the Nauru government website stating that refugee families are living happily in the community, so I looked into it, and it is rubbish — if you saw the
7:30 Report story, you would see the conditions are horrendous.”
Tim said that while he didn’t agree with the sentiments expressed and unhappy with his work being hijacked, the person still had the right to put the poster there.
“That’s the whole point of free speech, but do it with your own artwork, not mine,” he said.
Council also received calls about the work.
“I received a call from Council on Monday who said it couldn’t be a permanent installation and would have to come down.”
While the Council were very supportive of his protest, Tim has now removed the work from the site, and is considering his options about installing it in another location.
BEND OF ISLANDS artist, Tim Read of Tread Sculpture was pleasantly surprised by a phone call he received a couple of months ago to commission a work for the remote Aboriginal community of Mapoon in Far North Queensland.
“I was staggered when I looked up where Mapoon was,” Tim told the Diary.
The tiny community of around 250 people, only 200 kilometres from the tip of Cape York, is about as far as you can get from the Bend of Islands, but the community felt a connection with Tim’s work and commissioned him to produce an artwork for their up-and-coming Paanja Festival.
“The CEO of Mapoon Aboriginal Shire rang me to say they were having a celebration in September and they would really like some steel sculptural works representing the township and she found me online, ‘am I interested?’— and it went from there,” Tim said.
The remote community initially invited Tim to go fishing with them in exchange for his artwork. “It sounded like a great plan, except I have got to make a living from my artwork,” he said.
“My artist friend who had done work with communities up there, Linda MacAulay, told me that ‘life is simple up there, you enjoy the fishing and the hospitality and that’s the way it works’,” he said.
A more traditional payment was eventually negotiated for the commission.
Tim was shown a painting from local indigenous artist to inform his sculpture, which he has developed into a series of five totem poles that reflect the local Indigenous art, culture and landscape.
Tim works with reclaimed material to produce his sculptures and the rusted metal aspect of his work, along with Tim’s representation of native plants and animals, proved to be the right t for the remote community.
The sculptures are currently making the long journey to Cape York and, after being unveiled during the Paanja Festival, will stand as part of the gateway to the community.
If, dear reader, your travels take you to this far-flung community, keep an eye out for this little piece of Warrandyte in Cape York.