Despard Gallery is proud to share a special new photographic work by contemporary artist Jacqui Stockdale.
Jacqui Stockdale is a natural storyteller, working across multiple mediums, including painting, collage, sculpture and photography. Her photographic practice in particular is renowned for its carefully constructed portraits and theatrically staged compositions, incorporating handmade props, masks and painted backdrops.
Inspired by a mix of historic and contemporary influences, Stockdale’s work echoes the taxonomic decree of the colonial anthropological gaze. However, the humorous and performative characteristics of her subjects makes them resists any easy categorization, subverting our ideas around stereotypical cultural identities and creating an “altogether different set of values and historical and cultural trajectories”. Although Stockdale’s work often has a playful sensibility, it is also underpinned by a more serious and well-researched interest in the dark narratives of early colonial history, specific to Victoria, where she grew up.
Woman In Darkness was created by Stockdale as a follow on from the earlier work Girl In Darkness, which was part of the five portrait suite, Isola Corpo created in 2004. Isola Corpo, translates as island body, and explores the idea of human individuality, like that of isolated islands, yet collectively still part of a greater conglomeration, or united body.
“I photographed myself, my niece, my sister and two friends. A bit, No Man an Island sort of thing. Being connected through bloodlines, stories, culture, memories and myths.”
After reconnecting with Stockdale’s niece (the sitter for the original work), she revisited the theme, constructing a new mask and working spontaneously to create a new photographic iteration that spoke to the sitter now, being older, wiser and able to hold their own. As described by Stockdale, after seventeen years she re-emerges from Girl in Darkness to Woman in Darkness.
Stockdale has regularly made and used masks in her practice, likening it to the idea of masquerade, enabling a person or sitter to transform. Stockdale describes the use of masks and props a ‘portals to the other side’, allowing us to be part of a world that that can be hard to describe. The mask worn by the sitter in Woman In Darkness takes on a different role than that worn in Girl in Darkness. Instead of being shrouded by darkness and the unknown, the subject is now holding the mask and confident the face of untold destinies.
All editions of the original artwork Girl In Darkness have been acquired. Woman Darkness is presented in two sizes 80 x 63cm (ed of 8 + 2APs) and 110 x 85cm (ed of 6 + 2APs)
Jacqui Stockdale has exhibited extensively throughout Australia, as well as internationally, curated into significant exhibitions such as Magic Object, Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Art Gallery of South Australia; Theatre of the World, MONA; Alles Masquerade, Museum Rot, Germany; Todays/Tomorrow, Cape Town, South Africa, Living Rooms, curated by Robert Wilson, Louvre Museum, Paris; Outlands, Volta, Switzerland; and Wonderworks, Hong Kong. Stockdale won the Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize in 2012 and was awarded the Australia Council Barcelona Studio Residency in 2014. Her work has been acquired into important collections nationally, including the National Gallery of Australia, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra; Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Art Gallery of South Australia, as well as the Watermill Collection, USA.
Woman In Darkness 2023
pigment ink on cotton rag
80 x 63cm (ed of 8 + 2APs)
110 x 85cm (ed of 6 + 2APs)