The simple garment known as an apron can mask the fact that we are all the same underneath, creating expectations of identity.
This fact is exposed in Heinke Butt's collaborative exhibition titled The Apron "Beneath the Skin" which opens on November 22 at the Gympie Regional Gallery in Nash Street, Gympie.
Now based in the Mary Valley, Ms Butt draws on her South African heritage to create a dramatic and poignant insight into the apron, which has been worn for thousands of years as part of traditional dress by cultures around the world.
The Apron "Beneath the Skin" exhibition features "The Apron" as the "second skin", the layer that hides what is beneath in a cultural, a social or a historical sense.
“In recent history the apron has been worn by individuals who are ‘servants’," she said.
“As soon as the apron is worn, the wearer becomes a ‘different’ identity – thus changing their standing in society,” Ms Butt said.
The collection features antique aprons from South Africa and Canada, and items from the Karungkarni Art and Culture Centre in the Kalkarindji Community, near Katherine in the Northern Territory.
Alongside a significant collection of South African garments, contemporary artists have created their interpretations of the apron.
These include fellow Mary Valley artists - Pat Cale, Ilona Demecks, Elli Schlunke, Kathy Mullins, Meaghan Shelton and Chris Hardwick.
The exhibition includes works that look at the past as well as the future of the apron and suppression of identity, in particular of women.
It combines historical and cultural aprons with contemporary works by individual artists telling their own stories through materiality in art.
"Today contemporary artists have the opportunity to have their voices heard through their art, while through history the wearer of the apron did not have that voice," she said.
Anthropologists refer to the body as the primary site of identification and they as well as art historians have often used the term "second skin" describing body adornments.
"The skin is the most obvious canvas on which human differences can be written," Ms Butt said.
The Apron "Beneath The skin"
Gympie Regional Gallery, Nash Street, Gympie
The Apron "Beneath the Skin" opens at 1.30pm on November 22 and will run from November 18-December 17.
Gympie Regional Gallery, Gympie
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