Gria Shead sees, beyond the veil of conventional story-telling and hero worship, the breadth and contemporaneity of the experience of Otherness in the Australian context.
Gria Shead's technically astute paintings explore core human concerns: love, longing, displacement and discovery. She looks to earlier periods and environments in her quest to establish accurate references for a contemporary realisation of the issues of social justice, harmony and beauty.
Australian historiography privileges its patriot sons and their conquests over the country and adversity. Celebrated in words and images, legends were created by men about men, and white men at that. But what of the marginalised peoples in our early history: the women, the political refugees from old world England and Ireland, the deposed Indigenous people, and the early Chinese immigrants? Shead reviews our colonial and postcolonial history, finding that the forgotten not only contributed but also were, in many instances, the catalyst or inspiration for the stories we hold dear.
Shead’s oeuvre traces a trajectory on which may be plotted places and points of departure that she has transmuted with a jewel-like palette and technical verve and assurance.
Profile photo by Hugh Stewart
Read A Conversation with Jean Bedford and the ghost of Kate Kelly - by The Velvet Nap, which includes Gria Shead's painting Flash Kate. Jean Bedford published Sister Kate in 1982. It has recently been republished as an e-book.