Exhibition: Cargo

Alex is pleased to share details of his upcoming solo exhibition at Sullivan + Strumpf, Sydney, opening on Friday 28 September, 6-8pm and continuing until 20 October, 2018.

Cargo will feature new marble sculptures depicting highly compressed bales of clothing, of the kind found in the second-hand clothes industry. Each garment packed into these volumes has its own history and story to tell. Together, they evoke a tangled mass of humanity, the mesh of needs and concerns, environments and economies that connect us all.

Spanning both floors of Sullivan+Strumpf's Sydney gallery, Cargo includes six hand-carved bales of clothing. Over the last four years, Seton’s work has responded to the asylum seeker debate and Australia’s offshore policies. In Cargo, the free and profit-driven journey of bales of our discarded clothes stands in potent counterpoint to the perilous and stymied journey of the asylum seeker. The exhibition takes a step back to reflect on the larger economic and environmental systems that perpetuate our privilege.

In spending innumerable slow hours carving these flocked effigies, Seton pauses to consider the environmental, cultural and economic impact of these systems on those that bear the burden of our dispensation. The complexity of the bales’ surfaces also nod to the tropes of classical statuary, the shrouds, drapes and folds of cloth of a European marble tradition. Here, individual garments are rendered almost unrecognisable, compressed into bales designed for circulation in transnational markets.

Cargo is at once political, personal and biographic. Mirroring the human body's seven-year replacement cycle, the bales presented in the exhibition are based on Seton’s own clothes accumulated in his studio over the last seven years. The stone from which the bales are carved each refer to places and periods from the artist's life: his youth spent in the area near the Wombeyan Caves in New South Wales; years of study in traditional statuary of Bianca Carrara; exploration of the palate range of Statuary and Badiglio, and finding of a sense of place and appreciation of local textures and colour in Katoomba Green.

In this way Seton places himself within these transnational stories. Cargo offers us an encounter with our own complicity; not only in the production of landfill sites that will outlive us several times over and the destruction of local textiles industries. It also asks us to reflect on our role in the perpetuation of systems that fuel profit while turning a blind eye to the human and environmental costs of our way of life.

Throughout his practice, Seton has often used clothing and fabric to speak to the body and how it participates in the systems that structure our world; economic, geographic and social. From the ubiquitous hoodie politicised by the shooting of Trayvon Martin, to the makeshift tarp shelter of the refugee and the empty life jackets washed ashore the Cocos Islands, cloth serves as a humble reminder of the deep and messy entanglement of the personal and political. 

Exhibition: I WAS HERE at Fremantle Arts Centre

Fremantle Arts Centre, WA
22 July – 16 September 2017

Alex Seton,  I Was Here  2017, Bianca Carrara marble and ink, 75 x 180 x 2 cm each

Alex Seton, I Was Here 2017, Bianca Carrara marble and ink, 75 x 180 x 2 cm each

In Fremantle Arts Centre’s exhibition I WAS HERE, the world is flipped upside down, long held beliefs are disproved and fact replaced fiction as seven artists grapple with what’s real, imagined, or forgotten over time. Comprising photographic and sculptural works, I WAS HERE is a fascinating commentary on history itself and our relationship to the past.

Anna Richardson curated the exhibition, featuring Robyn Stacey (NSW), Tom Buckland (ACT), Alex Seton (NSW), Amy Spiers (VIC), Yhonnie Scarce (VIC), Kate McMillan (UK), and Wanda Gillespie (NZ).

Seton has contributed three works to the exhibition.  Left Turn at Alberqueque (2017) is a stop-motion video work depicting the artist gradually chipping away at a limestone tunnel. The title of the work makes reference to the immortal words of Bugs Bunny, who, emerging from the earth at any given site, would declare where he had made a wrong turn. 

I Was Here is a work in marble exploring the act of making and the ways in which humans attempt to apprehend history through the objects we create. Two large sheets of Bianco Carrara marble lean against the wall, one inscribed with the words ‘I Was Here’, the other bearing the inkblots that are the traces of this act.

Proof of Absence (2017) is composed of three pieces of limestone, which were pulled from beneath the sea off the coast of Vanuatu. They form part of a body of evidence assembled during the ‘undiscovery’ of Sandy Island, thought to be West of Vanuatu in the Coral Sea until its existence was disproved in 2013. The work reminds us that history itself is malleable, subject to errors and change.

Also on at FAC is Island, a solo exhibition by Ian Strange. Strange and Seton previously showed alongside one another in the 2014 Adelaide Biennial: Dark Heart, at the Art Gallery of South Australia.

Countercurrents at Samstag Museum of Art

Samstag Museum of Art
3 March – 14 April 2017

Someone Else's Problem  2015, marble dust, resin, Tasmanian oak, stainless steel, LED lights, dimensions variable. Installation view: Installation Contemporary, Sydney Contemporary, 2015

Someone Else's Problem 2015, marble dust, resin, Tasmanian oak, stainless steel, LED lights, dimensions variable. Installation view: Installation Contemporary, Sydney Contemporary, 2015


The Samstag Museum of Art is delighted to present two special exhibitions for the 2017 Adelaide Festival of ArtsThe Ocean After Nature and Countercurrents feature the work of twenty-three Australian and international artists and collaborations, exploring our relationship with and connections to the oceans through new media, sculpture, installation, painting and photography.

Presented in partnership with Independent Curators International, New York, The Ocean After Nature reflects on the complicated planetary effects that humanity and the oceans have on each other today. In response to that project, the Samstag Museum of Art has invited a number of artists – each with a connection to Australia, New Zealand and/or the Pacific Islands – to probe the unique implications of this complex relationship for our region in the compelling Countercurrents exhibition.

Countercurrents features the work of Daniel Boyd, Baden Pailthorpe, Alex Seton, Fiona Tan, Angela Tiatia, James Tylor, and Ken & Julia Yonetani.

Young & Free | An Australian Discourse

Alex Seton is pleased to be included in the exhibition Young & Free | An Australian Discourse, at Bega Valley Regional Gallery, from 10 February- 18 March 2017.

Flag Stack  2011, Tinted Perspex, 8 x 36 x 68 cm

Flag Stack 2011, Tinted Perspex, 8 x 36 x 68 cm


Leading Australian artists Abdul Abdullah, Joan Ross, Alex Seton, Tony Albert and Liam Benson deliver works from their recent history that expose, play with and question broad contentious contemporary themes of Australian culture.

Young & Free showcases artists whose work discusses ideas of colonialism, nationalism, and hot button issues around immigration policy, patriotism, Indigenous affairs and gender identity.

The Island, Newcastle Art Gallery

Alex Seton is pleased to announce the solo survey exhibition The Island, at Newcastle Art Gallery from 18 February - 7 May 2017.

Paper Armada  2015, Bianca Carrara marble, dimensions variable.

Paper Armada 2015, Bianca Carrara marble, dimensions variable.


This solo exhibition contemplates and questions Australia’s role in the asylum debate. ‘The Island’ as a concept can be a safe place of refuge, isolated geographically and ideologically from the humanitarian challenges the world is currently grappling with. Alternatively it can take on a more sinister tone as a place deserted for those who have survived a perilous sea journey only to be marooned, stateless, detained, looking to the horizon for help.

In Europe today, the mass movement of refugees and asylum seekers displaced by war and poverty is history repeated. Where once immigrants were embraced as a means to drive the health and economy of nations, today we turn inwards as the ideology of walls and fences become potent political capital. Seton expertly transforms and manipulates his marble sculptures into emphatic motifs and metaphors of these current socio-political themes and narratives. 

Within the exhibition: oars, life rafts and life vests are washed up on the shores of the 'The Island'. A key work on loan from The Art Gallery of South Australia, Someone died trying to have a life like mine 2013 was first shown in the exhibition Dark Heart at the 2014 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art. This major work of art is inspired by an actual event where 28 life jackets were found on a beach of the Cocos Islands within Australian territory, the owners still remain unidentified.



Alex Seton's work Deluge in a cup 2015 is the Joint winner of the Contemporary Talents International Competition of Contemporary Art, Fondation Francois Schneider, Wattwiller, France

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Now Showing: Sealed Section at Artbank

Group show 'Sealed Section', now showing at Artbank in Waterloo, showcases art that deals with 'topics of impolite dinner conversation' - sex, politics, and religion. It features 2007 work 'Self-Censoring Helps Everyone' (pictured) from 'Security Blanket' alongside work from Abdul Abdullah, Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, Brook Andrew, Drew Bickford, Arthur Boyd, Sarah Contos, Yvette Coppersmith, Hannah Cutts, eX de Medici, Christine Dean, Christopher Dean, Leah Emery, Marie Hagerty, Richard Larter, Tara Marynowsky, David McDiarmid, Stephanie Monteith, Dorota Mytych, Scott Redford, Darren Siwes, TextaQueen and Yaritji Young.

Thanks to Curator Miriam Kelly and Artbank. Read the full curatorial statement here. 'Sealed Section' is showing until Feb 7, 2015.

Summer in Melbourne: McClelland Gallery + Sculpture Park and Linden Centre for Contemporary Art

Alex is pleased to announce two solo exhibitions across two venues in Melbourne this summer - McClelland Gallery + Sculpture Park and Linden Centre for Contemporary Art. The double show, collectively titled 'Last Resort', has toured from earlier exhibition 'Refoulement', at Sullivan + Strumpf in Sydney in late 2014. It continues the exploration of asylum seekers begun with the installation Someone died trying to have a life like mine at the 2014 Adelaide Biennial 'Dark Heart'. Following the two shows in Melbourne, 'Last Resort' will tour to Rockhampton Art Gallery in May. 

Showing at McClelland Gallery + Sculpture Park from Nov 22, 2014 to Feb 8, 2015; Linden Centre for Contemporary Art from Dec 19, 2014 to Feb 15, 2015; and Rockhampton Art Gallery from May to July, 2015.