Merilyn Fairskye

Mary Kavanagh

Merilyn Fairskye is a visual artist and former Associate Professor in Media Arts at Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney, between 2000 and 2014. Represented in numerous museum collections in Australia and the US, her art has long been engaged with real-world issues that provide the backdrop to the lived experience of ordinary people. It has been included in more than 175 curated solo and group exhibitions, nationally and internationally, over four decades.

Merilyn’s artist films have been shown in film and video festivals in Australia and worldwide, including the Rotterdam International Film Festival, the Al Jazeera Documentary Film Festival and the Sydney Film Festival. Most recently, she has completed a commission for the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, to create photo and video artwork to mark the closure of Australia’s oldest coal plant. She has been visiting nuclear sites in Australia, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, the UK, and the USA since 2009 to create visual encounters with the elusive and shadowy narratives embedded in irradiated landscapes. Her aesthetic approach emphasizes the act of creation and construction over a passive recording and reconstruction of the world. It is anchored to the subjective human experience of ‘being there’ for both the artist and the viewer. This work includes photo series, constructed panoramas, video installations and artist films. Key works include the photo series Plant Life (Chernobyl), Plant Life (Dungeness); Long Life (Kazahkstan), Long Life (Kakadu) and the artist films Precarious and Birds. The umbrella for this work is the ongoing art project Long Life (2009-), which considers the slow violence of critical technologies through the lens of the post-Cold War nuclear age.

A new website, a work in progress, is both the portal to this work and the platform for new work. The next phase of Long Life will bring older work together with work in progress in new configurations and an expanded format to include different modes of exhibition and a photo book to draw out continuing connections within the work and with the world we live in today.


List of publications:

Merilyn Fairskye, ‘In/Visible’, Unlikely – Journal for Creative Arts, issue 05
Edward Scheer, ‘Precarious’, exhibition catalogue, Stills Gallery, Sydney
Michael Dolk, ‘Merilyn Fairskye’, exhibition catalogue, 100, Stills Gallery, Sydney
Gina Fairley, ‘Merilyn Fairskye: precarious’ , Artlink, Vol 32 no.4
Keith Gallasch, ‘Chernobyl: looking & listening’, RealTime #105