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wendy teakel back paddockTitle
Back Paddock

In storage

Place of origin
New South Wales, Australia


Acrylic and pokerwork on plywood

120 x 140 cm

Co-winner Calleen Award 2008

Accession number

Excerpt from The Calleen Collection by Peter Haynes (2019)

Wendy Teakel was born in 1957 and grew up in the Riverina in New South Wales. In 1979 she completed a Diploma in Art (Sculpture) at the (then) Riverina College of Advanced Education in Wagga Wagga. She did a Postgraduate Diploma in Sculpture at the Canberra School of Art (1985) and also completed an MA from RMIT University in Melbourne in 2004. She has taught at the (now) ANU School of Art since completing postgraduate work there and in 2008 was made Head of the Sculpture Workshop, a position she held until her retirement in 2017. Her many awards include the inaugural CAPO Fellowship (1993), the Alice Prize (1995), an artsACT Creative ARTs Fellowship (1996), Sovereign Asian Art Prize (2009) and the Country Energy Art Prize (2010). She has a substantial exhibition profile exhibiting regularly since the early 1990s in group and solo shows in Australia. She also has established a considerable presence in Southeast Asia, gaining Asialink residencies to Thailand in 1996 and 2001. Her work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, Artbank, Canberra Museum and Gallery, the Australian National University Art Collection, Chiang Mai University (Thailand), the Australian Embassy in Bangkok and various regional galleries. She lives and works in Murrumbateman outside Canberra.

Back Paddock is a powerful example of Teakel’s continuing interest in the contradictory character of the Australian landscape as a site of permanence yet a site of fragility and ephemeral qualities. For her the land is in a state of continual flux, marked by human and animal interaction. The ochre background is superimposed with a network of black lines bearing a strong resemblance to the barbed wire fences that enclose and announce ownership in the rural landscape. The placement of the lines above the background produces an aerial viewpoint as well as a feeling that the viewer is intruding. Within the background gestural swathes and groups of linear and other marks speak of the imposition of man onto the landscape and the natural order. Teakel does not adopt a singular viewpoint but allows a range of ways of seeing that subvert any idea that the hegemony of single ownership corresponds to reality. This subtle formal infusion quietly acknowledges indigenous rights to the land of which they see themselves as custodians and points to the continuing power of art as social and political commentary. Back Paddock is a powerful and enigmatic work that expresses a number of truths in the artist’s individual and highly resolved visual language.