Zoe Abercromby

Year 12
School: Shenton College
Medium: Photography transfer with pyrography on plywood

Artist statement: I decided to explore my own past and how my family and ancestors migrated to Australia. Before my Grandpa passed away he wrote a book about his father Robert Abercromby, and the journey he endured moving from England to Australia in the early 1900’s. I learnt a lot about my family and myself while reading this book, which of course inspired an artwork. My work was heavily influenced by Shirin Neshat, and Iranian artist who comments on the politics in Iran, and explores notions of femininity in relation to Islamic fundamentalism and militancy. Her simple compositional style creating powerful meaning through symbols, lines, shapes, and other elements is what drew me to her works. This is something I did with my self-portrait, directing the shoot with myself as the model. I transferred my work onto a piece of plywood using a polymer varnish. I burned veins into the negative space of the work around my head, which are in the shape and exact numbers of my family tree, which was a photo in the book my grandpa wrote, dating back to 1800. I chose to include the shape of Western Australia, which is where I have always lived, in the top right half of the image. This is where Robert Abercromby first settled which is why a majority of the veins lead to WA from the direction of Europe and England. The main meaning of my work is a personal journey into my past, and the history of my family. It also explores the idea that everyone is at one point an immigrant, and I believe it is important to live in a world that is not ‘theirs’ and ‘ours’, but everyone’s.

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