Over the course of a few years I composed 17 artworks, installations and sculptures for my new exhibition titled, Unmask. The exhibition went for three weeks starting from the beginning of September. Notably, it was a different opening night than before due to COVID-19. Despite the lack of conventional celebrations, the exhibition was successful and I was extremely grateful for those who came and supported me.
I spent 3 weeks visiting random nail salons and getting to know the women who work in these places. I listened to their stories about working in the nail and beauty salons. I shared my own experiences from working in nail salons in the past. Most of all, I encouraged them to share the risks and hazards they encounter when working in a toxic environment. The majority of the materials were sourced from tools and materials found in the nail beauty industry. As I am a Vietnamese refugee-Australian artist, my project was influenced by both the values of cultural sides and synthesis of artistic techniques – the land from which was I born and raised, and the place I currently call home. This was an original project that had been brewing inside for many years, where I felt the need to express the issues in regards to women’s workplace health – in particularly the Vietnamese women who work in these salons.
During the January summer bushfires, there was also a parallel with wearing masks - similar to the women in the nail salons. Following the bushfires came COVID. Again, we were all masked and isolated one way or another. Therefore, I felt so strongly to title this exhibition, Unmask, to express myself and express my emotions through the artworks.
It has been an incredible experience and I am so honoured to be able to have a residency at Blacktown Arts Centre.
Some thank you's:
- Councillor Susai Benjamin from the Blacktown City Council for visiting.
- Councillor Tony Bleasdale, the Mayor of Blacktown City for attending
- Monir Rowshan for coordinating and facilitating the exhibition and staff.
- Alicia Talbot for supporting me and encouraging me throughout the process.
- Jason for staying back late to install the paintings for the exhibition.
- Patrice Wills for being a mentor to myself and our studio group.