Gregory Pryor: Dragging tail
School of Arts and Humanities / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications
Australia Council for the Arts
The very last section of a Chinese hand scroll is called tuowei or “dragging tail,” in reference to its position after the painter’s work. After the painting is first mounted on the scroll, tuowei is added as an empty space, ready to receive written responses by various people over the lifetime of the work. These colophons are usually made by writers of similar stature to the artist, by the collector (often the emperor) of the work, or even by esteemed critics who have been commissioned to undertake a considered response to the work by the owner.
In allocating Dragging Tail to this current body of paintings as a title, I am making a reference to the relationship of text or writing to the Western Australian landscape by white people since the colonial period. Early forays into the expanses of the Yilgarn craton by colonial explorers (and surveyors) would often result in a written response, or other inscribed documentation, like mapping or sketches. This process mirrors the experience of unrolling a Chinese landscape (shanshui) handscroll, travelling through the landscape, and arriving at a point where inscriptions are made...
Exhibited at Turner Galleries, Perth, Australia from August 16 2019 to September 14 2019.
Exhibited at the Vivian, Big Omaha, New Zealand from December 7 2019 to January 9 2020.
The Vivian closed in March 2020, reopening in Auckland under the name of Scott Lawrie Gallery. www.scottlawrie.com