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Chris Austin's Masks

29 August 2020

Chris Austin's Masks

Photo: Chris now has Artwork on display in Coastline's Art Hub, located within the Community Hub at 26 Smith Street, Kempsey.

We'd like to welcome Chris Austin to our Art Hub. This new initiative is 100% free of charge, with all proceeds returned directly to the artist. Find out more here:

Chris Austin brings an exciting and current exhibition to our Coastline Art Hub this fortnight.

"Mankind has employed masks for as long as mankind has existed. They’ve been used for disguise, for the invocation of spirits, for entertainment, for protection from miasma, and more recently for protection from COVID 19.

I have been making masks, on and off for about twenty years. My interest started with the leather half masks used in the Commedia dell’Arte, an Italian theatrical form that flourished between the C16th and C18th and had a resurgence in late C20th which thrives to this day. One of my contacts for Commedia masks lives in Ubud, Bali and it was while visiting him in 2012 that I was introduced to some of the great mask makers of that island. Balinese masks are in many ways quite different to Commedia masks; they’re made of wood rather than leather and hold a deep spiritual significance for the wearer. My masks are made from papier mache but like Balinese masks, require many layers of paint and sanding back to achieve the desired finish. They are of performance quality and are indeed intended to be “played”.

The dozen or so masks that comprise this presentation appeared almost uninvited. I usually try not to not overthink when working preferring to allow the piece to go where it will but these babies really do seem to have minds of their own. With hindsight I fancy that all the bewilderment and anxiety that I’ve been harbouring over the political and social state of humanity in general and the events of the last six months in particular have found voice in paper and glue".

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