Displacement / Belonging

As an artist, designer and researcher, Mathieu Gallois’ practice explores social and material alienation and displacement, and their antithesis: place / belonging.

Gallois’ practice falls into three main periods of cultural production.

Furniture design / making and drawing:

Over this early period, Gallois developed his skills as a designer and a multi-skilled artisan; and consolidated his drawings skills (with a special interest and focus on portraiture).

1993 – 2006 – Art making:

Ephemeral and sometimes site specific, Gallois’ art making from this period often appropriated and interpreted existing structures on a one-to-one scale. Within these recognisable frameworks, slippages or shifts in material and spatial reality were introduced creating environments that were both familiar and alien: a house is made from polystyrene Frontier (1998). A film-set in its entirety is painted in Blue Screen Chroma Key – a special effects paint used in film to create a void background Flesh Hunger (2001). And a detention camp is experienced in repetition Containment (2006).

The art works of this period concurrently expressed a sense of alienation, critiquing situations or structures that contribute to socio-environmental ruptures, or a lost cultural / spiritual sense of belonging to, or identification with place. For example, Flight 934-B (2000) documented the passengers of a 747 transcontinental flight suspended between destinations; Caravan (2001) created a narrative around an invisible constituent who lives on the fringes of society; and Containment (2006) explored the psychology of the Australian Federal Government’s policy of long-term detention of “unlawful non-citizens”.

In 2002 Gallois received a Samstag Scholarship, which enabled him to complete a Masters Degree at Goldsmiths College in London, UK.

2007 – An expanded practice entailing architecture and research; resulting in collaborative, speculative, activist propositions:

Upon returning from Europe, several major developments broadened the scope of Gallois’ creative practice. Between 2004-7, Gallois completed a degree in architecture at UTS. Starting in 2005, Gallois made a conscious decision to turn the direction of his practice inwards (so to speak) and engaged Australian Indigenous history and culture (culminating in his PhD). Since 2005, Gallois’ practice has located itself more firmly between art and architecture, has been more socially and environmentally engaged, and has been characterised – in process – by research and long-term collaborations.

Recent collaborative, speculative ‘activist’ works include The Reincarnated McMansion (2008-), 1 house = 1000 homes (2009) and the Wellington projects (2010-13).

The Reincarnated McMansion Project proposes to audit, dismantle and rebuild a single McMansion dwelling. An unsustainable large home will be reincarnated into two or three best practice, zero emission smaller green homes using the existing McMansion building materials.

Conceived as a speculative housing project, 1 house = 1000 homes invited six international community groups and NGOs to submit housing proposals that could be funded through the sale of a single Australian home.

The Wellington Projects consisted of a publication and a series of research-based interpretive artworks. The Wellington publication is a 64-page newspaper-styled ‘book’ featuring contributions by and perspectives on the local Aboriginal community as a gesture toward writing their narratives back into the recorded history of the area (central NSW).

Between 2014-2018, Gallois completed his award-winning PhD on the Aboriginal Flag, and completed his first major solo architectural project, the Hill Street commission.