21 July 2021
The Shepparton Art Museum is excited to announce the major public artwork A House of Discards (2019), by acclaimed Aboriginal artist Tony Albert (Girramay/Kuku Yalanji) has been permanently installed in the forecourt of the new Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) building, bringing the Museum one step closer to its public opening on 15th October.
Reaching nearly five metres, the towering steel structure resembles a supersized house of playing cards with bold black and white faces, and is the largest work to enter the SAM Collection to-date.
House of Discards expands on Albert’s ongoing use of “Aboriginalia” style playing cards, a term the artist coined to describe kitschy objects that feature crude caricatures of Aboriginal people and appropriated designs in the style of Indigenous art. With its reference to both theBritish monarchy and depictions of the Aboriginality, Albert uses the playing cards to reflect on the legacy of colonisation and cultural misrepresentation in this country.
House of Discards departs from the artist’s established representational style, with the Aboriginal imagery discarded and the suit erased from the faces of the playing cards. Reduced to black and white plains placed back-to-back, the work puts into stark contrast Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives on a national history founded in the dispossession of First Nations Peoples, while also alluding to the conjoined nature of our future. The structure (and the history it speaks of) appears precarious, yet its inflated rendering in steel also suggests the possibility of a constructing something sturdier if all elements can work together.
“We are so fortunate to be able to present this significant public artwork by one of Australia’s most critically acclaimed contemporary artists, Tony Albert, at the entrance of our new museum” says Belinda Briggs, SAM’s Curator –Indigenous.
“Technically and conceptually astute, the work’s commentary on and probing of societal and cultural structures creates a foundation for both intimate and public discussion about the design of a shared future between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.”
Tony Albert was born in Townsville, North Queensland in 1981 and holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts from the Queensland College of Art. He works across a wide range of art forms, combining drawing, painting, photography, text and installation. His practice examines the legacy of racial and cultural misrepresentation, particularly of Australia’s Aboriginal people, and seeks to rewrite historical mistruths and injusticeAlbert’s work can be seen in major national and international museums and private collections.