Mask (after Ned Kelly)
2019 | 70x55x45cm | carved wood
Art Gallery of New South Wales
May 10 - September 8
Canonised in the public imagination as a restive anti-hero, Ned Kelly embodies the enduring fiction of the embattled underdog. In the National Portrait Gallery, stripped of armour, life and beard Kelly’s death mask lies in state - a disembodied, sallow description of the hang man’s grim task.
Australia continues to polish its idols from a cast of rapacious and violent men. Lionising historical acts of brutality as the just consequences of perceived oppression gives implicit consent to those enacted today. Whether it’s Don Dale, Manus or right next door, the perpetrators of violence need to be revealed for what they are.