Ghostly images explore artist’s family history

Published on 05 March 2019

Artist Karyn Fearnside's Waiting in the Wings image

Stromlo Ghosts, a new exhibition by Canberra based artist Karyn Fearnside will open at The Q Exhibition Space on Tuesday 12 March from 5:30pm.

Stromlo Ghosts draws on the artist’s childhood growing up in the forestry settlement next to Duffy. The nearby Stromlo Observatory was a constant in her childhood, and is a site rich with association and family meaning.

For this body of work, Fearnside has drawn on the textures and markings of the disused observatory buildings after their destruction in the 2003 bushfires. These textures are overlaid with ethereal images of her two redheaded daughters, creating an effect of ghostly veiling between our world and the world of spirit. The transformation of the observatory in the fires mirrors the transformation of family as each successive generation leaves their mark.

“My sister had her wedding reception in the observatory at a time when my daughter did not exist, though by the time of the bushfire I was just pregnant with her, another transformation” explains Fearnside on the importance of the Stromlo site in tracking these connections between the spiritual and physical worlds within her own family.

While several of the works in the series have been exhibited before, including Waiting in the Wings which was shortlisted for the Kennedy prize in 2015, this is the first time the series has been exhibited together in its entirety. The result is a haunting and eerie display which strongly evokes the legacy of the artist’s family and the connections that persist between disparate generations. 

The exhibition also extends the artist’s love of the textural surfaces of the region through a series of street photography works captured in and around the Queanbeyan region. Through these street photographs, the artist invites viewers to look more closely with the world around them, and to take the time to explore the subtle details of their own environment, and the associations it holds.

The artist has been supported to present this work at The Q through an Arts Activities Grant from the ACT Government.

Exhibition Opening: Tuesday 12 March, 5:30pm
Exhibition Runs: 12-30 March 2019
Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday 10am-4pm, Saturday 10am-2pm, Sunday Closed