Billy Bain is a multidisciplinary artist based in Sydney, Australia. His practice focusses on ceramic sculpture, printmaking and painting. He is currently completing a Bachelor of Fine Art (Hons) at the University of New South Wales Art & Design. Bain discusses ideas of Australian Masculinity, particularly within the Australian Beach Space, the pub and within sporting contexts. Using dark humour, Bain critiques toxic behaviours that are prevalent amongst young men in Australia. He also explores the conflicting duality between his Indigenous heritage and that of the largely Euro-centric culture he was raised within on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Bain’s disconnect with his traditional Indigenous culture and country is a source of motivation for research that informs both his works and constructing his own identity as a suburban Indigenous man. Through accessing archival information, objects and oral histories through family, Bain seek to create his own narrative interpretations of where he came from and his cultural identity.
His most recent body of work “White Wash” explores localism within surfing culture and examines how Bain, as an Aboriginal man, fit into this concept. He understands the beach space to be continually under white possession and this is reaffirmed by performative acts of masculinity by the white male bodies of surfers, lifesavers and soldiers. In White Wash, he positions clay beer bottles as both a vessel for these hegemonic masculine rituals and as a metaphor for the body. Using subversive humour, Bain’s creation of clay bodies seeks to decolonise the Australian beach, a space where the Indigenous body has been systematically denied.