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Contemporary Australian Bidjara artist Dr Christian Thompson AO is back with a new body of work, New Gold Mountain. The exhibition, which explores Thompson’s Southern Chinese background, will open at Singapore and Sydney-based Yavuz Gallery from today. “Further establishing my practice in Asia is a really exciting prospect for me,” says Thompson. “There are really dynamic things happening across the art landscape there, and it’s a really exciting context for my work because of my personal familial connection to the region.” Influenced by his Chinese-Australian grandmother, a descendant of the first wave of Chinese migration from the mid 1800s gold rush era, Thompson’s New Gold Mountain works also explores his powerful, personal connection to nature. We spoke to Thompson about the project:

Tell us about what lies at the heart of this new exhibition?

“At the heart of this new series of work is an homage to my Grandmother and our Southern Chinese heritage.”

What resonated with you most as you were creating the works?

“Memories of my Childhood in Central Queensland, the stories my Grandmother told me.”

What is the “New Gold Mountain”?

“New Gold Mountain or Xin Jin Shan is what the first wave of Chinese immigrants referred to the Gold Rush in Australia. This was borrowed from the Gold Rush in California USA which was called 'Gold Mountain'. My Grandmother's family were part of this first wave of migration in the 1850's from the River Delta area of Southern China. Hence the strong presence of gold in these new works.”

Identity, belonging and history are all topics being openly explored by the creative community - how do they inform your work?

“I always refer to my own experience to open up a larger conversation about the nuance and intersectionality of contemporary Australian identity and experience. I think this is what art is capable of doing is moving us forward culturally.”

Where do you like to work? Is there somewhere that particularly inspires you?

“There are so many phases in producing one work but I enjoy all the elements from my initial concept, to selecting materials to shooting the work in the studio. These days though I spend most of my time in my Collingwood studio or in my at home recording studio for sound works, nature inspires me.”

Who or what is profoundly inspiring you right now? 

“My friend and mentor Marina Abramovic is inspiring me  at the moment, her fortitude is awe inspiring and seeing her new work is just monumental.”

New Gold Mountain opens virtually today.

Above work: New Gold Mountain (Xin Jin Shan), 240cm x 240cm, 4 x 120cm x 120cm Panels, C Type Prints, 2021. Courtesy of the artist and Yavuz Gallery, Singapore and Sydney and Sarah Scout Presents, Melbourne.