An image of Comparative monument (Shellal)

Tom Nicholson

(Australia 1973 – )

Comparative monument (Shellal)

Location
Not on display
Further information

Tom Nicholson often works with historical material to propose new commemorative forms. 'Comparative monument (Shellal)' is the third in a series exploring historical links and contemporary resonances between Australia and Israel/Palestine.

The work draws on the complex history of the 6th-century Shellal mosaic, which was uncovered in Palestine by Australian soldiers in 1917 and brought to Canberra. Eventually the mosaic was built into the architecture of the Australian War Memorial (AWM), where it remains. As an act of speculative repatriation, Nicholson has reconstituted the surviving fragments as though using tiles from the vast dome mosaic by Napier Waller in the AWM's Hall of Memory.

Crated in readiness for its return, 'Comparative monument (Shellal)' invokes the contested sovereignty of the site the original mosaic was taken from. Historically this was located within the territory of Palestine; now it is part of Israel. Today, this desert hilltop offers a view towards Gaza City in one direction and the Israeli city of Bir Sab'a/Be'er Sheva/Beersheba in the other. Nicholson imagines his repatriated mosaic as a platform for this view, which uniquely links the two cities and implies a future alternative to the present.

Year
2014-2017
Media
Sculpture, Installation, Time-based art
Medium
glass tesserae mosaics, wooden boxes, dual channel digital video, colour, sound
Dimensions
duration: 00:6:01 min left channel, 00:13:39 min right channel, aspect ratio: 16:9, display dimensions variable :
a - mosaic 1, 72.6 x 75 x 10 cm
b - mosaic 2, 72.4 x 74.4 x 10 cm
c - mosaic 3, 73 x 72 x 10 cm
d - mosaic 4, 75.4 x 81 x 10 cm
e - mosaic 5, 75 x 79.6 x 10 cm
f - mosaic 6, 73.4 x 73.4 x 10 cm
g - mosaic 7, 75 x 77.4 x 10 cm
h - mosaic 8, 73 x 75 x 10 cm
i - mosaic 9, 79 x 76 x 10 cm
j - mosaic 10, 75.5 x 81 x 10 cm
k - mosaic 11, 76 x 74 x 10 cm
l - mosaic 12, 72.5 x 74.5 x 10 cm
m - mosaic 13, 75 x 79.5 x 10 cm
n - mosaic 14, 75 x 79.5 x 10 cm
o - mosaic 15, 75 x 79.5 x 10 cm
p - empty box 1, 135 x 71 x 10 cm
p2-p7, 79 x 71 x 10 cm
p8-p14, 73 x 78 x 10 cm
p15 - empty box 15, 76 x 71 x 10 cm
p16-p21, 76 x 78 x 10 cm
p22-p26, 80 x 74 x 10 cm
p27-p28, 81 x 72 x 10 cm
p29 - empty box 29, 85 x 72 x 10 cm
p30 - empty box 30, 76 x 75 x 10 cm
p31-34, 75 x 73 x 10 cm
Signature & date

Signed l.l. Certificate of authenticity, blue ink "Tom Nicholson [signature]". Not dated.

Credit
Contemporary Collection Benefactors and Patrick White Fund 2017
Accession number
89.2017.a-r
Copyright
© Tom Nicholson