Madeline Gordon Gallery

Wallpapers

Emily Galicek

January

Early in 2022, my grandmother moved from the apartment she had shared with her late husband for nearly 50 years into a nursing home. This was the only home my grandparents had lived in since their arrival in Sydney as refugees from former Czechoslovakia in the mid-1970s, my father in tow. As such, the already monumental task of cleaning out this home became a journey through the archives of their lives: the places and the people they had been.

Long-forgotten things re-emerged. In a cupboard above the stove, rolls upon rolls of wallpaper, some still in their shrink-wrap, had been stored for almost 50 years. On partial rolls, old elastic bands had grown brittle and sticky with age. A glut of inexpensive decorative material stored as a kind of physical memory: the home they had made in this new, foreign place. I knew I needed to keep them, but what was I going to do with dozens of metres of green vinyl patterned in dainty floral? Then the papered walls of their home were painted over by the real estate, and I knew why I had felt a compulsion to hold on. These wallpapers became a huge source of inspiration for the paintings in this exhibition.

Domestic interiors and decoration are often overlooked art forms, but they are complex aesthetic and social historical documents. I am fascinated by the craftsmanship, the functionality and the changing trends in how we decorate our homes. The paintings in Wallpapers incorporate historical imagery of decorative elements from domestic settings, with a particular emphasis on wallpaper and upholstery textiles. The paintings twist these decorative elements into new and unexpected compositions, playing with colour, pattern and form and giving them new life in the contemporary space.

Emily Galicek
January 2024

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