Drawn from recent work created for the 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art and the 22nd Biennale of Sydney, A Dickensian Sideshow takes as its starting point the Lismore-born and world famous Aboriginal tightrope walker Con Colleano, known as “The Wizard of the Wire”. Colleano performed to great acclaim on the European and American vaudeville circuits with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, becoming one of the most highly paid circus performers of his time.
Working in her trademark method of collecting found objects, Lismore-based Karla Dickens has amassed what she classifies as “the memories, whispers and materials” from which these works have been constructed. The result is the creation of a multifaceted memorial for bygone sideshow, circus and boxing-tent performers of Indigenous descent to unearth underlying narratives of tender and melancholy co-existence among performers and harrowing interactions with audiences.
A Dickensian Sideshow is a Lismore Regional Gallery and Orange Regional Gallery partnership exhibition.
The gallery is open and practicing COVID-19 social distancing measures.