The art practice of Gabrielle Bates has evolved over 30 years into an immersive investigation of how we occupy, understand and enchant place. In 2007 she undertook a year-long residency in Kuala Lumpur, which led to subsequent residencies in Penang, Manila and Australia. These experiences introduced her to community-inclusive approaches to cultural production, as well as prompting her masters research into Witchcraft, ritual and creative site activation. In Australia, Gabrielle’s art works have been selected for highly-regarded award exhibitions, she has received numerous commissions, and produced 13 solo exhibitions. She works between Gadigal and Wiradjuri lands, and pays respects to elders past, present and emerging.
Crossroads, bus shelters and town centres are just a few sites of energetic convergence that sit between present time, function, and folkloric imagination. Some say they are haunted. In 2021, Kandos community members participated in physical transformation rituals to engage with and magically activate such sites. Photos of their psychic negotiations between more-than-human realms and place were digitally manipulated, then pasted up close to these original sites for Cementa 22 as part of a larger exploration of how we occupy, understand, and enchant place through witchcraft and ritual. This project has been made possible with the support of an Orana Arts Restart Grant in partnership with Create NSW.
The core principles of Witchcraft are the foundation of Gabrielle Bates’ work, which combines Animist thinking with ritual practices to explore how magic can be used for expression and political action in troubled times. Gab works directly with community and performance in places of folkloric significance, which are often regarded as haunted. Her explorations rely heavily on ephemeral materials to advocate for things that are forgotten, unloved and unseen, and her final pasteup posters are often absorbed and reclaimed by the places in which the performances took place.