Robert Andrew

Presence, 2021

Video, silent, 27 mins, looped

Courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane

Robert Andrew (b.1965) is a descendant of the Yawuru people from the Broome area of the Kimberley, Western Australia. Andrew creates sculptural installations which explore tensions between old and new cultural and material forms. Andrew visualises an unearthing of personal and familial histories—envisaging links with his Country as well as Aboriginal understandings of place, belonging, and connection.

Andrew’s recent works have explored electro-mechanically driven plotting systems and robotic mechanisms which control the movements of strings, rocks, ochred elements and branches. He also often uses words in Yawuru language entered into the plotter at one end of these networks and outputed as large-scale wall drawings. Andrew’s combination of highly refined, programmable technologies with raw materials and mineral resources – such as earth pigments, ochres, rocks and soil – also alludes to the cultural issues and politics associated with colonial and extraction economies such as archaeology and mining.

Presence combines footage sourced from Andrew’s kinetic installations and communicates his evolving relationship to Country as he continues to uncover his familial history. While the mechanical elements he uses are precise and programmed, Andrew also cherishes the organic and often unexpected patterns and forms that can result from these interactions between earth pigments, water, ochres, rocks, and technology. This video work captures these images of surfaces and re-presents their lush colours and blooming arrangements, further suggesting the circularity in relationships between past and present.