Explorers: narratives of site in contemporary art practices was an extended, multilayered, accumulative exhibition project, which responded to the complex and overlapping narratives of the historic Woodford Academy site. The exhibition (at 90-92 Great Western Highway Woodford) was open from Saturday 7 October until Saturday 18 November 2017.
The exhibition was developed by Modern Art Projects (MAP) Blue Mountains in conjunction with Woodford Academy and supported by funding from Create NSW. The show involved a group of 17 Blue Mountains and Western Sydney contemporary artists and co-curated by Beata Geyer and Mahalya Middlemist.
The idea of ‘exploration’ has been a strong narrative associated with the Blue Mountains and predominant discourses on colonialist Australia. In Explorers: narratives of site artists and curators explored other, lesser-known narratives, including pre-colonial perspectives and traditional cultural stories, historic accounts and urban myths.
Intrinsic to the artistic vision of the project was the facilitation of a deep engagement with the cultural and architectural heritage of the site through a concept development phase. Artists and curators engaged in explorations of stories, both historical and traditional, as well as with the material traces of the past through explorations of archival materials, the landscape and architecture.
Artists worked across a range of media, including painting, installation, performance and time-based media within the framework of contemporary art practice to make new work in response to the historical and cultural resonances of the site. Three broad themes – Stories, Mapping the Terrain and Architecture informed the curatorial approaches to this exhibition.