His intention is to poke fun, blend the “sublime with the absurd”, and incite us to ask questions.
David Ferry’s work can be seen in some of the world’s best galleries such as New York’s MOMA, but he has now touched down in Ballarat as Federation University’s current artist-in-residence.
The highly-regarded British satirist pokes fun at his home country’s class system using photo montage, defacing images of stately British homes with pictures of junk food or goldfish.
The result is disarming, hilarious and thought-provoking.
The emeritus professor of printmaking at Cardiff Metropolitan University and printmaking consultant for the Sidney Nolan Trust is in Australia after giving a keynote address in Melbourne on the enduring legacy of British satirical art.
Growing up working class in Blackpool, Ferry said he wanted to question the established superiority of the upper class.
“Things, we assume, in a museum or stately home have to be particularly better than ourselves, posh,” he said.
“Aquarium life is something you can almost buy in Walmart, you couldn’t buy a stately home in Walmart (or at all) unless you are part of the heritage gentry of Britain. I’ve turned the tide over. Instead of having the aquarium in a council-assisted apartment, the stately home is home of the aquarium itself.”
But he said his work was not necessarily anarchic political statements.
“As much as I’m allowing myself to go, I’m not an agent provocateur.”
“The sublime and the ridiculous, is where people like me slice in the middle, the fissures, the cracks.”
Ferry said many of the images he found of stately British buildings seemed to have no people, traffic, grime or life – they were almost sterile.
“What I try to do is populate them by cutting out other things and sticking them where they normally weren’t,” he said.
“Photography is interesting, it’s essentially a kind of lie. It’s what we want to see in it or what the photographer wants us to see in it.
“I’m not a painter of architecture, I’m a commentator of why that architecture is perhaps there or what one can do to usurp it by sticking something in front of it.”
The Invader’s Guide to the British Isles is being held a the Post Office Gallery, Camp Street, until November 20.
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