Empire (Scrub)

Gavin Hipkins (New Zealander, b.1968), Artist 2007 © All rights reserved See full details

Object Detail

Dated 2007, this work was realised for inclusion in The Domain. From the exhibition handbook:
The Empire and Second Empire series emerged at a time when the artist was becoming weary of the realist mode of photography—the constant travel required to make works like The Homely (1997–2000), and the repetitive act of searching the world for things that could be turned into photographs. To make them, Hipkins returned to an art school strategy of appropriating existing imagery, exchanging physical travel for flipping through books and catalogues, and his camera for a flatbed scanner.
The Empire works originate in mid-20th century British Commonwealth and Empire annuals, designed to inspire and educate children of the Commonwealth with the success of Britain’s colonial activities; books that were already relics of the past by Hipkins’ own childhood. Hipkins copied and manipulated illustrations from the annuals, and then digitally overlaid them with scanned and enlarged embroidered patches: symbols of subcultural identity or protest.
In Second Empire, illustrations are taken from sumptuous travelogues published in the late 19th century, and scanned, cropped and inverted before being overlaid with badges. As well as foregoing the camera, the Second Empire works are produced as printed canvases, further distancing them from Hipkins’ previous photographic series.
The connections between the finely drawn illustrations and the gaudy patches seem nonsensical (in another series titled Bible Stories (2009), illustrations from a children’s bible are overlaid with fragments from Goethe’s play Faust, often to ironic effect). Hipkins describes the layering in terms of absurd juxtaposition, and is interested in the spaces created between the layers, where different time periods and cultural allegiances are brought together.
Empire (Scrub)
Production date
colour photograph, c-type print
600 x 600mm (approx TBC)
Credit line
Collection of The Dowse Art Museum, gifted by the artist 2018
Accession number