Visual artist Alison Clouston works on the coalface of the vexed human relationship to the rest of nature. Working in sculpture, installation, and other media, with a critical interest in Colonial environmental and Indigenous history, she regularly collaborates with the musician, composer/sound artist Boyd, who brings soundtrack to the immersive worlds she builds. Their installations are often interactive and participatory, sometimes solar powered, always carbon audited and offset. Their recent work at Cross Arts Projects in Sydney for Particulate Matter; a fossil fuelled future? 2020, is a pair of “Coalface” masks made for climate protests, and a video that juxtaposes a noisy public demonstration in Sydney and the dawn chorus of a nature refuge destined to be mined for coal.
Mirrityana – out in the sunlight 2019, is a major installation for “Art of Threatened Species” a two year art/science collaboration bringing together ten artists, ten research scientists and ten threatened species in New South Wales (a partnership of Dept of Planning, Industry & Environment, Orana Arts, and Dubbo Regional Gallery, exhibited at the Western Plains Cultural Centre). Alison used nineteenth century blacksmithing technique and a whole arid-zone Mulga tree, which Boyd embedded with a soundtrack from field recordings made in the landscape of their assigned species, an endangered dragon lizard on Paakintji lands in Far Western NSW.
The enormous “Wreath” 2019, which Alison built and stitched from wood and recycled bedding, is a monument to the end of coal, with Boyd’s field elegiac recordings of dingoes on the city fringes and urban microbats. Made for a sandstone chamber under the former coal loading port in Sydney harbour, it was a finalist in the North Sydney Art Prize.
For their project NatureLovers 2017, Alison and Boyd worked for over a year with up to forty visual artists, composers & musicians of the Nowra region for a series of performances & an installation for Planet Nowra, a Theatre Kantanka and Bundanon Trust project. Another iteration of this work, NatureLovers: Clandulla camp 2018, was a tent installation, and backpack performance in a forest near Kandos in regional NSW, for Clandulla State Gallery Survey 2.
Alison collaborated with her mother Joan Clouston on NeverEnding 2015, a site-specific installation for Daughters Mothers (Future Feminist Archive) curated by Jacqueline Milner in a massive institutional Colonial laundry at SCA Galleries, Sydney. Alison has been a repeat finalist in the site-specific NSW Womens Art Prize in the historic Meroogal House. She has made work on other Colonial historic sites including Hyde Park Barracks and Elizabeth Bay House in Sydney.
Alison has exhibited in Australian sculpture surveys ever since Mildura, the First and Second Australian Sculpture Triennials, and Australian Perspecta at AGNSW. She has had many solo and group exhibitions in NZ and Australia, including Cementa, Te Papa Tongarewa National Museum and the NZ Arts Festival. She has been recipient of residency programs with Indigenous artists in Central Australia, Norway, Hong Kong, Fremantle WA, the Australia Council for the Arts London Studio, and NSW Government Create NSW grants. Her work is held in Australian National and Regional Gallery collections and in University and private collections.