In discussing Callum Jackson’s show, Australia’s First he spoke of ’Bastard Culture’. We had been talking about his trips to Scotland in 2012 and in the European summer of this year. Connecting with relatives living there and immersing himself in the landscape, Callum engaged in the time-honoured tradition of Australian artists leaving for Britain to expand horizons. Presuming he was referring to a Scottish euphemism for hardy resilience (or something similar) Bastard Culture was, instead, thrown in as a turn of phrase mid-conversation to describe his practice.
Where is the bastardry in Callum’s work? His prints and drawings aren’t of high pedigree – of a marriage between fine art and fine society. They are illegitimate children of chance meetings of materials and intentions. They have come from the union of a land with emerald glens and one that’s much hotter and drier. Freed from the heaviness of clan responsibility and expectation these works are loose and go as they please aesthetically. Found materials mix with colour schemes derived from family tartans in his pieces. Scottish landscapes are silhouetted and impressed onto random materials. Things are cropped and scribbled out.
There is an urgency and romance of belonging when in a foreign land that feels like home on an ancestral level, but has not been a part of your everyday enough to get you thoroughly bored. This is the delightful failure of being unable to establish yourself along clearly defined cultural lines as a traveller, a hybrid being and an insider while still and outsider. That’s Bastard Culture.
Jonas Ropponen, 2015