Kate McMillan’s photographs, videos and multimedia installations explore personal memory and the ability of landscape both to evoke and represent history and trauma.
Islands have long held a fascination for the artist. Islands of incarceration (2010), a site-specific work specially made for a disused timber drying shed on Cockatoo Island, draws on the artist’s engagement with Australian colonial history. McMillan links two sites: Cockatoo Island, and the Ludlow Tuart Forest in south-west Western Australia – the site of the 1841 Wonnerup Massacre in which up to 300 Wardandi Noongar people are said to have been massacred and buried over a period of five years. Positioned at the top of Cockatoo Island, the work, in its weather-exposed position, is a poetic evocation of place that simultaneously watches over and aunts the island, itself a former prison. Adding to the sense of unease, a soundtrack, composed of sounds almost below human hearing range, has been made in collaboration with sound artist Cat Hope.