Denise Rathbone was born and grew up in Tasmania. She has travelled extensively throughout Europe and Asia. Her initial training and work experience is in social policy analysis, administration and social work practice. She has had a longtime passion for art and art practice and has recently completed a BFA (Hons) at TCOTA in Hobart. Her main interest is in socially engaged art and her current paintings deal with complex aspects of protest movements – the powershifts, the encounters, the humor, the unexpected.
Whose side are you on
This body of work depicts mise en scene of real and imagined liminal worlds, that invites the viewer to experience the ambiguity and shifting ground of the protest movement, present and past. With a view to capturing powerful moments of human engagement, this series of paintings is inspired by the overlooked observed in the sea of mass media images that bombard us in the daily news. I discovered colourful, funny, often elegant gestures of quiet dignity on behalf of the female protesters, and unexpected kindness and humanity on the part of the police who guard them.
My recall of protests in the 70’s is that they were very serious and grey affairs. Today’s non- violent protest movement has become more complex and sophisticated using art and humour as key strategies. The Rebel Clown Army have developed a form of civil disobedience that attempts to breaks down the binary and oppositional thinking to effect social change in their frontline encounters with police. Likewise, the women’s movement has demonstrated in the recent “pink hat project”, the capacity to operate globally and use social media as an important vehicle for mobilizing forces in a united voice without traditional rivalries.