#welcomenotwelcome is a project that is being exhibited at Photoaccess

An Artist In Conversation is 2pm 19th August at Photoaccess.

It is also a project that I made into a photobook in 2017, which was a finalist in the 2017 Australian AIPP Photography Book of the Year.

The title #WelcomeNotWelcome comes from a popular hashtag #SorryNotSorry which is often used on social media. It is a contradictory and ironic phrase and normally used in humorous situations.

After moving to Queanbeyan I was always attracted to a beautiful mural on the side of the local swimming pool. It pictures a group of culturally diverse people along with doves of peace. It has a great sentiment, sadly it is behind a 2m locked fence and there are rubbish bins and waste strewn around it.. I feel it makes a statement about how western society treat diversity. From this I have observed many structures and places that can also be interpreted in the same way… It is a sad reflection of our world with evergrowing  discord, exclusivity and protectionism becoming rife…. #WelcomeNotWelcome hopes to subtlety address this contradictory and ironic nature of the world at this time in history.

Happy To say that Peter Haynes wrote a review of the exhibition along with the two other artists exhibition in the gallery. I am very happy with his critique and understanding of my concept and exhibition.

Build A Fence
Waste to Landfill
Stairway To Heaven
Great Views, Established Gardens
Low Clearance
All You Can Eat
I Haven’t Got A Welcome Mat, Because I’m Not A Fucking Liar

Peter Haynes critique can be read here:

According to her artist statement, Hilary Wardhaugh’s #welcomenotwelcome “addresses ironies and contradictions in contemporary life when considering issues like privacy and yet having an incessant desire and compulsion to promote and share every detail of our lives online”.

Her means of expressing this is to proffer a set of 13 images, the majority of which speak of precluding viewers from seeing what is behind a range of barriers (fences, hedges, walls). It is a case of what you see is not what I want you to see. The images are beautifully crisp, often carefully divided into layered horizontals that create a form of order that can be read as a metaphor for the superficially bland “order” of the built environment, an environment that holds/hides within it the private lives of its inhabitants. While the premise of the exhibition may appear negative the resulting images are certainly not.
Wardhaugh is a skilled artist with an acute understanding not only of her medium (here, inkjet prints) but also of pictorial composition generally.

I haven’t got a welcome mat because I’m not a f—ing liar clearly demonstrates this. The division into horizontal bands establishes the idea of lateral continuity as well as reinforcing the notion of a barrier between what we see and what lies behind the hedge. The verdant central hedge is prettily enlivened with scattered pink flowers that sit in stark contrast to the ominous clouds that occupy the top of the picture plane. This ominousness is continued with the inclusion of a barely glimpsed industrial structure sitting tightly against the right-hand edge of the composition. In the foreground, two well-tended plant beds indicate that the site of the image is a site of some human activity.

People, however, are noteworthy in their absence in all of the exhibition images. This device allows viewers to more easily elide themselves into the images as well as investing a further sense of unease, a characteristic that runs throughout all the images.

In Stairway to Heaven, an eerily lit stairway leads down into some underground space, a walkway or station entry perhaps. The spare geometries and graphic presentation of this structure stand in contrast to the surrounding (though equally uninviting) natural environment.

Build a Fence continues a similar feeling of disquiet but here the overpowering sky (occupying nearly three-quarters of the spatial composition ) is broken only by the inclusion of two light posts peering up over the once again ominous fence. The images in this exhibition each speak of the ubiquitous and intrusive presence of the built world. They also speak of that environment as a metaphor for the barriers we place around ourselves, even of the dangers inherent in opening ourselves to others. Wardhaugh uses a direct and simple visual language tinged with an element of mystery to impart a sense of threat, a sense of isolation and retreat from the realities of life and the real world.