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Dylan Mark Bolger | Leaf SZN

A new body of work exploring the Macaranga leaf, a plant known for surviving and thriving through environmental devastation.

Dylan Mark Bolger is a proud descendant of the Maiawali, Karuwali, Pitta-Pitta and Gomeroi peoples. Dylan approaches all his projects by combining his art, culture and technical expertise to deliver unique creative outcomes. He a dedicated Artist and Architectural Technician with experience in masterplanning, documentation and 3D modelling. 

Leaf SZN is the result of the Safe Space Artist-in-Residency program supported by Brisbane City Council through the Lord Mayor’s Creative Fellowship. Dylan entered the residency with great ambition, hoping to create a mass amount of leaves to spread across the space. With great commitment, Dylan spent hours in the Aboriginal Art Co studio hand drawing leaves in various colours, mediums and experimenting with a range of different applications. Having a dedicated space to create, allowed Dylan to experiment with larger scale mediums. Incredibly, Dylan has produced ninety artworks featuring this particular leaf design. Each are label with a corresponding number. 

Dylan first became interested in the Macaranga leaf during the Gold Coast City Council First Nations Artist Camp in 2021, where he participated in a bush dyeing workshop (facilitated by Norton Fredericks). From this camp, Dylan learned the nature of this leaf being of old world genesis. Leaf SZN recognises the resilience and the Blakness, in the built environment of so called ‘Australia’, through the Macaranga leaf. The Macaranga leaf is a metaphor of First Nations people and culture being of ‘old world genesis’ as Aboriginal people grow back through the devastation of colonisation. Known for its resilience, the macaranga, is among the first plants to grow back after devastation allowing new life to also grown. 

This body of work is derivived of first print impression made on paper at the camp and has since been producing interations of the leaf, in various mediums with the majority being hand-drawn by the artist. Leaf SZN collectivises his creations. There is strength in numbers and by seeing all the leaves together, it provides visability to the otherwise unnoticed.

As a part of this exhibition, Dylan has created a flood map of Meanjin (Brisbane) and surrounding suburbs. Since European settlement, Brisbane has been susceptible to flooding and has recorded seven major floods. The Macaranga tree is vital to this country’s ecosystem as it lays down the foundation for other species to grow again. Pinned in red on the map are murals that Dylan has created with Macaranga leaves. If you purchase an artwork you are also invited to pin the map with where the artwork will be located. The map gives us a visualisation of the spread of the Macaranga leaves as it re-colonises this country. 

Aboriginal Art Co was grateful to host such a prolific artist. Dylan has really pushed the boundaries of the subject and its various interpretations. The centerpiece of this exhibition is a triptych; Sixty Two, Sixty Three and Sixty Four create a image the Macaranga leaf in fine contour lines across three ply boards. This took Dylan the whole residency to complete. Week to week people could visit the studio to watch this leaf propagate and multiply. Like plants growing, his exhibition has expanded beyond the Vault Gallery into all corners of Aboriginal Art Co. We are so happy that these works are a part of this year’s Churchie Emerging Art Prize, presented by the Institute of Modern Art (IMA, Brisbane).

Dylan also has a live auction co-insiding with the exhibtion; a selection of experimental works from Leaf SZN are open for bidding until Saturday 13 May, 6.00pm. The auction includes items such as a framed collection of paint brushes, Work in Progress papers, and a number of prototypes. The auction proceeds will be divided evenly between the artist, Aboriginal Art Co, the Murri School and the Blaklash Community Fund. To view the auction and place a bid, click the like link below. 

Leaf SZN is on display in the Vault Gallery at Aboriginal Art Co until 13 May, 2023. 

Safe Space Artist-in-Residency Program is supported by Brisbane City Council through the Lord Mayor’s Creative Fellowships. Aboriginal Art Co is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, Australian Government through Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support (IVAIS), with philanthropic support from Tim Fairfax Family Foundation (TFFF). 

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