From the fringes of the city, acclaimed artist and Griffith University graduate Dennis McCart is bringing our “edgelands” into sharp focus.
It is here where the urban begins to give way to the rural, though not before passing through a post-industrial belt that exists on the outskirts of every city. In its tunnels and overpasses, telegraph poles, drains and concrete walls, Dennis finds artistic inspiration among the abandoned and the atrophied.
“I’ve always been drawn to what I describe as urban banality, that undeniably evocative landscape that exists on the edges of the city,” says Dennis, who is based in Brisbane. “It’s where you see society stripped back and raw.
“While not necessarily the nicest places, there’s an essential truth to them that I want to capture and interpret. By adding or subtracting imagery, I am striving to unearth alternative versions of meaning, place and form.”
Studying at Griffith University honed Dennis’s ideas. After graduating in 1980 from Seven Hills Art College – which became part of Griffith University as the Queensland College of Art (QCA) in 1991 – he returned to complete a Graduate Certificate of Digital New Media in 2000. In 2012, he completed a Master of Fine Arts (Honours), his research again focused on society’s edgelands.
Predominantly working in oil painting, installation and digital media, Dennis’s art has been exhibited widely in Australia. Recently shortlisted for the prestigious Clayton Utz Art Award 2017, he has also been shortlisted for the Kennedy Art Prize, Redlands Art Prize, Moreton Regional Council Art Prize, Lethbridge 10000 Art Award, Milburn Art Prize and the Rotary Spectacular Art Prize.
In January this year, Dennis developed, curated and exhibited in Changes: Forty Years of Art Practice, which showcased 18 QCA alumni who continue to make important contributions to art practice, expression and interpretation. For Dennis, it was another opportunity to bring the margins to the centre of artistic attention.
“Edgeland landscapes are often sites of abandonment and, uninhabited for long periods of time, they become wastelands,” he says. “My aim is to resituate them within the broader aesthetic, social and environmental issues, and contribute to the documentary role of art as an historical record of our time
“I am fascinated by the ambiguous nature of edgelands and the mysterious wildness they possess. Though a world away from the landscapes of our ideal destinations, so too are they places of possibility, mystery and beauty.”
To learn more about Dennis McCart, visit his website here.