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Franck Gohier:

a thousand miles from everywhere.

Franck Gohier’s bold artwork has made him a stalwart of the Darwin art scene, and the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) is taking a look back at some of his career defining work.

By Tamara Howie.

The acclaimed Darwin artist said his interest in people was one of the core themes that emerged when he revisited his work from the last 30 years. Franck Gohier: a thousand miles from everywhere, curated by Glen Barkley, is the third in a series of retrospectives by MAGNT focusing on local talent, following Winsome Jobling in 2016 and Rob Brown in 2015.

“I’m just really interested in people, who they are, how they react to events and situations and the history of people,” Gohier says.

“Why do people live here in Darwin for instance, in a relatively isolated place, and what makes people survive?”

His work explores Darwin as a city and the major events that shape the town and its people, from the bombing of Darwin in World War II to Cyclone Tracy, alongside the social and political landscapes.

Gohier’s skills cross several mediums, including printmaking, woodcarving and painting, and he’s made a name for himself with his cheeky and astute social and political commentary.

As the recipient of a $20,000 grant from the NT Government in 2016, Gohier has been able to lock himself away in his suburban backyard studio and create new works, some of which will be on show at MAGNT – including his “show-stopper” piece titled ‘The Gunn Point Space Base’.

“It’s an epic piece,” Gohier says.

“It’s a bit of a funny piece too because it’s talking about the NT space base like it’s a pie in the sky idea. We all get these crazy ideas in outposts like Darwin and the space base was one of those kind of ideas back in the day and it got shelved for a long time.”

Little did Gohier know there were plans to bring the idea back to life last year.

“When I had almost finished this piece, after working on it for months and months, I was listening to the radio and they said they’re talking about reintroducing this thing.”

Gohier says the piece will also be a “thank you” to the public and the Government for the grant, which allowed him to focus solely on his practice.

“Without the grant and that support I would never have been able to put that piece in the show – I guess it’s a thank you to the taxpayers and the people who pay for the grant.”

A diverse public program accompanies the exhibition, with the opening night hosted by Tim Ross and Kit Warhurst, with music from David Garnham and the Reasons to Live.

The public programs include an artist talk with curator Glen Barkley and MAGNT’s Curator of Australian Art Wendy Garden; a studio visit; and kids’ workshops – running as part of MAGNT’s regular Kids’ Club and Youngsters programs.

To coincide with the exhibit Gohier has chosen a number of documentaries, feature film and short film collections that explore some of the major themes in his work for MAGNT at the Movies.

Franck Gohier: a thousand miles from everywhere | Fri 2 Feb – Sun 1 Jul | Opening Fri 2 Feb, 6-9pm | MAGNT | Free | 

Art Talk | Sat 3 Feb | 2pm | MAGNT | Free

Studio Visit | Sat 10 Feb | 10am-12pm | $20 | $15 Conc | MAGNT

MAGNT at the Movies – Franck Gohier Film Selection | Every Sat in Feb | 1pm | MAGNT | $10 | $8 Conc | $5 Child | Free U6

Images from top: Franck Gohier, ‘The Phillip’ (detail), 2006, synthetic polymer paint, metal can, nails and buttons on wood, 62 x 24 x 24cm; Artbank Collection. Franck Gohier, ‘Nature vs nurture’, 2015, synthetic polymer paint on board with found objects, 120 x 90cm; collection of Corinne Toune and Toby Robinson. Franck Gohier’s Darwin studio, 2017; MAGNT/Merinda Campbell. 

Thumbnail and banner image: Franck Gohier, ‘Cowgirl’ (detail), 2004, synthetic polymer paint, metal can, nails and buttons on ironwood 53.5 x 27 x 16.5cm; Artbank Collection

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