Mariana del Castillo graduated with a Bachelor of Arts at the ANU School of Art and Design in 1989 and has since had her artwork presented many times in festivals, exhibitions and art events across Australia, as well as internationally in Denmark, the UK, Ecuador, the USA, Japan and Germany. In addition, Mariana’s works have been included in public and private collections at the Canberra Museum and Gallery, the ANU, the NRS Group, the Parliamentary Group and Mallesons Stephen Jaques. You can find more of Mariana’s work at www.marianadelcastillo.com.
‘Facades and other baggage’ was originally shown as part of the ‘Making: Acts of Resistance’ exhibition at Rusten House Art Centre, which celebrated artists of the Queanbeyan-Palerang region. The exhibition was curated by S.A.Adair.
I was born in the town of Ambato, Ecuador. In 1972, I immigrated with my family to Sydney, Australia, under the Whitlam government’s open immigration initiative. In 2016, after 40 years in Australia, I returned to Ecuador. This pilgrimage allowed me to investigate my South American First Nations heritage and the history of my family, which had previously existed only in my childhood memories, through the dark glass of my mother’s displacement, and through the magic realism of Southern American literature and visual arts that I absorbed. My childhood experience was dominated by the women in my family; however, there was an ever-present patriarchy that lay over my life – and, I felt, the broader continent – like a large blanket: at its best, indifferent to misogynist social norms, and at its worst, a toxic masculinity, violent and oppressive.
In ‘Facades and other baggage’, the locations are home, highway, and urban and natural landscapes. These locations symbolise the new environments the migrant must navigate while travelling through unfamiliar landscapes.
Migrants are drawn to the city; they can find their place in the melting pot. Recognisable odours and tastes can be recreated in their neighbourhoods, communities and diasporas. I explore the idea that the home is housed within the individual and can travel and survive migration and displacement. This work reflects universal issues of identity, connectivity, survival, urbanisation, and an environment shifting through climate change.
The reclaimed wool blankets, replete with their domestic histories, shroud and wrap the tableaux, concealing the anxiety caused by social unrest and the global pandemic and highlighting the fragility of an impermanent home. At the centre of my installation is an alteration of recycled materials and environmental debris.
For the part thirty-five years, my artworks have encompassed site-specific installations and mixed media sculptures. At the heart of my art practice is a commitment to recycling, up-cycling and transforming found and everyday objects into the building blocks for my artworks. This ethos was central to my upbringing, and stands in contrast to my experience of the throw-away consumer culture of urban Australia.
Facades and other baggage: freestanding sculpture and video. Materials: Recycled plywood, timber, tent fabric, found freeway strapping, wool, reflective fabric, plastic, rubber, blank ink and fiberglass.
© Mariana del Castillo, 2022