Shane McGrath is a multidisciplinary contemporary artist whose practice and research is focused on the social turn, delegated performance, community engagement & intervention. Shane’s work highlights new understandings of the relationship between art, culture and contemporary publics. Through major public projects and research-based methodology, he explores his interest in vernacular culture, sporting codes and the particularity of place, and cultures within place.
Community-engaged works include On The Outer in Treatment: Six Public Artworks at the Western Treatment Plant (2015), Cocoroc. A joint partnership between Deakin University and several Wyndham-based institutions helped realise a series of major public artworks that creatively responded to the site, history and geography of Werribee’s water treatment facilities that date back to the 1880s. Shane’s project On the Outer re-activated the abandoned site of the township of Cocoroc at the Western Treatment Plant, and centred on the now scattered community that once worked and lived there. Using the football oval and the original clubrooms, he worked with ex-residents and the local historic society on a participatory event, re-enacting a footy game on the old Corcoran footy oval. Combining social practice, the politics of place, collected oral histories and the vernacular language of amateur sporting codes, On The Outer investigated the stigma of the other and the dynamics of community culture.
Gelber LuftBallon: Dunedin research project (2013), Blue Oyster Gallery, Dunedin. With the support of Creative New Zealand and the people of Dunedin, Shane embarked on a research project throughout March/April 2013. The project responded to the public’s mixed reactions to the construction of a new $100 million, 28 story/ 96m tall five-star hotel on Dunedin’s waterfront. Public objection focused on the unsympathetic design and the dominating height of the hotel – the developers had been asked to provide a physical height indication but refused to do so. Shane lived in the community, eventually creating and sending aloft a barrage balloon to the controversial height of 96m. The outcomes, documentation and reactions to the work were exhibited at The Blue Oyster Gallery. Combining video documentation of the launch, the balloon itself and the 506 submissions to council, the community were included in a social discussion that took place in real time. Public dialogue was refreshed, and the media once again discussed and critiqued the proposal.
Uncommon places II: Run Through, Melbourne Fringe Festival (2015). This public performance work was situated in Melbourne’s CBD. Random members of the public collectively leap through contemporary art footy banners. This work critiqued the contemporary public’s perception of high and low art in Australia at a time of crippling federal budget cuts to the arts.
To read more about Shane McGrath’s practice please visit his website.
Image supplied by Shane McGrath