The Art Gallery of South Australia acquired Sue Kneebone’s works Neat Drop and Angel Inn, both 2014, from an exhibition she held at Fontanelle Gallery in 2014, Deadpan. The works are being exhibited in the AGSA atrium in June.
“It goes back to my ancestors of the mid-1850s,” Kneebone explains. “I was trying to capture a feeling of a time in Adelaide when there was some sort of sense of colonial brutality and gentrification rubbing up against each other. That’s the aesthetic I’m trying to create.”
Neat Drop focuses on the story of her ancestor John Mansforth who was brutally murdered at Skillogalee Creek, north of Adelaide. A lot of Kneebone’s work involves field trips and, in this case, she travelled to where the crime scene was thought to be. There she found signs like Hellfire Creek and Devil’s Garden. “These colonial, gothic names inspired my work and the sensibility in my work,” says Kneebone.
To add authenticity, Kneebone included items such as a rock from the site of the murder, combined with domestic furniture including colonial chairs or chandeliers. “It’s about taking nature and the domestic environment and mashing them together,” she says.
Kneebone is trying to piece together her own family history and its place in the context of colonial history. “I’m trying to get a feel for that time through my work. I’m looking for anecdotes and trying to get an understanding of those colonial times.”