Chain reaction: Kate Downhill

Research output: Non-traditional research outputExhibition


Curation of a survey exhibition of the work of artist Kate Downhill, with particular focus upon works that investigate her family's personal involvement and legacy of British nuclear testing in Australia. Macquarie University Art Gallery exhibition, 16 October - 27 November 2013.

Chain Reaction is a survey exhibition recounting the work of British Australian artist Kate Downhill and demonstrating the artist's production spanning the last fifteen years. The works on show range from the figurative - with bold use of vivid, flat colour and surprising juxtapositions of realistic representation against graphic symbols, to works of lyrical abstraction − employing a subtle, chalky palette of paint and wax thickly applied, abraded and relaid in many layers. Also on show are new paintings combining text, textiles and child-like imagery employed in the manner of patchwork quilts, piecing together disparate snippets of social history, scientific data, and nostalgic recollection.

Downhill's works are both an immersion in painterly practice and an engagement with the mediated imagery of time and place. They are cultural markers to broader narratives and histories beyond the personal. This exhibition is timed to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the nuclear tests at Maralinga. Numerous paintings in the show make reference to the artist's own memories of growing up in the atomic age, as the child of a physicist involved in the development of the H Bomb and its subsequent testings in Australia. The exhibition will include some historical footage and personal memorabilia.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Australian painting
  • curation
  • Kate Downhill
  • nuclear tests in Australia


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