The Monolith Series comprises six sculptures each an earthen Monolith and accompanying figure that explores themes of history, trauma and recovery, based on Michael's experience in The Australian Army. Currently only one of the six sculptures has been constructed as a 1/3 scale Marquette, with the others in various stages of development and expected to be revealed over the next few years.
Menin Gate at dawn 2019, is the first of the Monolith Series. The title Menin Gate at Dawn references an historic WW1 artwork by Australian WW1 artist John Longstaff, Menin Gate at midnight, 1927. The wound within the Menin Gate at dawn monolith mirrors the Menin Gate arch; and despairs at the optimism with which each generation promises to never return to violence and war it undertook with such enthusiasm, only to have the next generation repeat the mistakes of the last.
The monolith within Michael’s most recent works hark back to his experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq as a member of the Special Operations Task Group in Afghanistan and the Task Group Taji Training Team in Iraq. Walls both of earth and cement were integral to the construction of native villages and military bases throughout Afghanistan and Iraq. They seek to separate those inside from the dangers of the world beyond. The walls raise the horizon line meters into the air, projecting it into the sky and hiding the world beyond from view. It is within this liminal world that life is conducted for the soldiers and local Afghani and Iraqi defence forces and civilian population. For a four-month period Michael was stuck within the walls of a compound in Iraq. His view of the world limited to the trajectory of the sun and the stars of the night sky. Within this confinement he became fascinated by the wall structures; the weathering, the light, the forms, and their confinement of the view. Upon his return they began appearing in his sculptural works. Their weight seeks to dominate a space, to obstruct and conceal, forcing the viewer to heed its presence.
Raw earth as an art medium has several meanings in Michael’s work; the colour, texture and form are reminiscent of the earthen walls found throughout Afghanistan. Walls marked the existence and gathering of people; separating and protecting them. The ubiquitous walls stood marked by the weather, the people they contained and the conflict they defended their occupants from. Earth is also a literal carrier of history; its strata contains our historic narrative as a civilisation captured within its folds. The monolith represents a history and the layers of meaning, nuance and experience a human’s existence contains. Our histories include happy experiences, friendships, love as well as traumas of various kind. Michael believes that we have the choice to let our experiences define our existence; both the good and the bad. He believes many individuals choose to become their trauma; wallowing in an existence that stifles their future potential rather than seeking to grow beyond their traumas. He offers hope to those that suffer from trauma; hope that joy and happiness can be found beyond the weight of our histories.
If you are interested in exhibiting, purchasing or learning more about the Monolith Series please contact Michael through the CONTACT tab on this website.