Vivienne Dadour is a visual artist based in the Blue Mountains. Born in Sydney to an Australian Lebanese family, her artistic practice is deeply committed to the social relevance of art concerning issues of place, cultural diversity and the politics of identity. These issues have conceptualised Dadour’s past and current research-based art projects. Dadour has exhibited these projects in spaces including Penrith Regional Art Gallery, Maitland Regional Art Gallery, Australian War Memorial Museum, New England Regional Art Gallery, Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, NSW Parliament House, Braemar Gallery, Articulate Project Space, The Cross Art Projects and Ivan Dougherty Gallery, UNSW. Dadour has a MFA from COFA, UNSW, and has been a recipient of the Australia Council Visual Arts/Craft Board Grant, AGNSW Moya Dyring Studio Paris, New England Regional Art Museum Research Scholarship and Triangle Artists Workshop Scholarship, New York.
‘As Far As Kandos – Syrian Mary Make No Delay’ is part of a series of art projects that explore how oppressive racial attitudes and harsh economic conditions influenced working conditions for immigrants in post-colonial regional NSW. This project draws on the extraordinary life of Syrian Mary, a rural hawker, who from 1890–1910 walked along isolated roads hawking haberdashery in the Bathurst and Mudgee shires where she is known to have regularly made diversions to out-of-the-way places – ‘as far as Kandos’. The culture and traditions of the time relegated rural hawkers like Syrian Mary to the unseen corners of our past. Thank you to Kandos Museum archivists for their collaboration and support; Art Resistance, MAPBM and Australian Lebanese Historical Society for encouragement and support; Sean O’Keeffe for video production; Jim Low, Vicki Powys and Roy Cameron OAM for permission to use their research. Syrian Mary feels deep gratitude to the Dabee Clan of the Wiradjuri People for providing safe passage and permission to travel on their land. This project has been supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW.
Deeply committed to the social relevance of art, Dadour’s practice has a strong ideological basis that is oriented towards the spheres of social and political issues concerned with place, cultural diversity and the politics of identity. These issues have been conceptualised in the Restricted Lives Project, an ongoing research-based art project that draws on the lives of her Lebanese ancestors, who migrated to Australia in 1886 amid prevailing alienation (White Australia Policy). Dadour continues to process these issues by referencing and transforming private and public archival images, records, objects and interpretive images, into aesthetic objects of value, thus, re-defining and re-imagining a personal and collective narrative about displacement and survival, identity and belonging. This work reveals issues that are today understood as important, but which may be obliterated, ignored, hidden or obscured by the passage of time.