With this series of British nursery rhymes I have chosen a very light and colourful palette to resemble the original illustrations of nursery rhymes found in children's books. I imagine the rhymes have been read across the generations by bleary eyed parents desperate for sleep and not paying attention to the words themselves or the historical events they reference.
Over the past few years I started taking an interest in nursery rhymes for a possible series of paintings. I became fascinated by the beautiful illustrations and wondered to what extent the meaning of the words was understood. Rhymes were read to me as a child and in turn I read them to my own kids - Mary Mary how does your garden grow? - not understanding that Mary's garden was a graveyard for Protestants. Extreme violence is found in many of the most popular tales.
Like other former colonies that still have the reigning English monarch as their head of state, Australia is currently reassessing its relationship with "the mother country". I was coincidentally in London last month at the time of Queen Elizabeth's death and its aftermath: observing the public response reinforced for me the timeliness of this series of work, as it seeks to expose dark truths buried in the narratives of our shared history.
I am certainly not the first to delve deeply into childhood mythologies. However, these are new versions of old stories based on facts found in my research and imbued with absurdity, which seems appropriate for the times we are in.