nicholas nicola etchings

2017 Cyclops etching series & other political/social observations

This is an etchings series 'in progress' which will go hand in hand with a further study of Australian landscape etchings which will have a mainly abstract quality and which will be displayed on a separate 2017 webpage.  However, this webpage will contain etchings that mainly follow a social/political theme of which there are only two etchings which have been completed. A political/social critique is to be initially critiqued through the mythological figure of the cyclops which represents a narrow human view which is usually intolerant and leads to much inhumanity. Other mythological 'visual metaphors' will also come to the fore ( the minotaur comes to mind...). Many more images are intended throughout the year. Thank you.
Please press on the square thumbnails to view the whole images.

'Aeneas escapes from the Cyclops.' B&W. 8" X 6" sugarlift. aquatint. zinc plate.

‘Australian Cyclops with refugee. (Nauru/Manus).’  5" x 13" sepia. sugar lift. aquatint. zinc plate.




19cm X 14.5cm sepia. aquatint. zinc plate 

     Further information including once more the dimensions and other information:

    'Aeneas escapes from the Cyclops.' B&W. 8" X 6" sugarlift. aquatint. zinc plate.

  In Virgil's Aeneid there is a threatening scene where on a Sicilian shore a row of hostile cyclops sought to do harm to Aeneas and the Trojans with him who - as refugees - were seeking to found a new city after the Sack of Troy by the Hellenes. We view the many cyclops from Aeneas’s point-of-view as his ship desperately draws away from the shoreline. I was struck by this small passage which seemed to resonate so well with today's irrational 'one-eyed' xenophobia and racism; especially in Australia.

   It is also disconcerting how the EU is entertaining the inhumane idea of adopting Australia's harsh border protection' policies due to increasing numbers of refugees seeking refuge in Europe. One is also aware of the irrational 'one-eyed' policies of a U.S. administration that is becoming ever more hostile towards migration & asylumseekers; thus this image maybe seen as a ‘modernist’ universal image that reflects a universal human cruelty which needs to be strongly countenanced against

   2. ‘AUSTRALIAN CYCLOPS. Nauru’.  5" x 13" sepia. sugar lift. aquatint. zinc plate.

Originally titled Australian Cyclops at Nauru* I still would like to hope to allow this image to have a wider interpretation. Cyclops who has a victim of which is about to be rushed and devoured can now also refer to Polyphemus in the Odyssey who attacked, captured and devoured Odysseus's men who were also refugees of sorts (the open space below the cyclops can be viewed as a cave as well as a Nauru tent).**
 Cyclops can still refer to Goya's Saturn Devouring His Children as we can sight a person in this one-eyed giant’s clutches. At first sight one can consider this a benign image until one realizes the full horror of what is actually happening; much like a behind the scenes bureaucracy that has put in place a unyielding process that slowly, incrementally, grinds down the human souls trapped in offshore detention in a state of  merciless, limbo imprisonment that tears away at their very sense of being. This human being will be mercilessly devoured by this impersonal creature. One may wish to consider how in the broadest sense the cyclops is associated with a narrow, inflexible, irrational dehumanizing 'one point of view ' that - often negative and without compassion - devours not only human reason but also human imagination.

*The original intention of metaphorically portraying an inhuman situation on Nauru is still a major motivation for this image and below is what I original wrote:

What maybe considered a somewhat benign image akin to a child's drawing actually becomes an image of dread when one finally realizes it references a malignant inhumane situation on Nauru where thousands of already recognized asylum seekers continue to suffer a hellish limbo as the Australian government continues to refuse to give them entry into Australia as it is obligated to do under the International Refugee Convention of which it is a signatory. Both major parties prefer to cowardly pander to a racist, xenophobic marginal section of the Australian population who can acutely influence their hold on power at each upcoming general election; a disgusting, vile situation which belies the insidious moral corruption of a nation. Yes, morality and ethics mean absolutely nothing when it comes to aspiring after power at all costs. It is an obscene state of affairs in a so called democratic country and it is apt that there is an international feeling that what is occurring in offshore detention on Nauru and Manus is a crime against humanity. Human beings are slowly dying in both mind and body; a 'living death' for many who are suffering needlessly. Many refugees sadly now have medical symptoms akin to PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). This simple image references Goya's Saturn devouring his children which is a horrific image of a crazed bestial giant devouring a human being. What is referred to here is not so much an overtly dramatic situation but rather to the 'bureaucratic banality of evil' whereby far away decisions in Canberra in air-conditioned offices, out of the public eye and away from any political transparency, incrementally and slowly lead to an ongoing policy of callous barbarism which is akin to having human beings sacrificed to fuel an inhuman, almost unfeeling psychopathic cyclops's immature, cancerous hold on power (a slow death indeed). Thus, here through one's human imagination by relying on human symbol to express an inhuman reality one can witness this Australian Cyclops towering over an empty Nauru refugee tent with a refugee figure who is in it about to be swallowed by this inhumane giant. In regards to human perception I have decided to rely on the human imagination rather than on human vision to portray this horrific scenario propped up by a political cynicism that vilely undermines every profound, humane sense of human rights that have emerged since the Enlightenment.

**One may also wish to consider the notion of the revolution which eats its children as well as war continually being a cyclops eating its victims and so forth. One also thinks of the giant Bosch bird eating a soul in Hell. I also acknowledge the English artist Ian Fairweather who is also considered an Australian artist who spent many years in Australia. He is famed for his outline figures which reference Chinese calligraphy. (I have been told the head of the cyclops can remind one of Aboriginal iconography but this is actually not the case as Aboriginal art was never referenced.


     19cm X 14.5cm sepia. aquatint. zinc plate     

  A thorough write up still needs to be included for this etching but suffice to say it is a meditation on the mental suffering that refugees have to endure: firstly, from the hardship of escaping from where they face death and secondly, from the hardship they must endure when their action to escape from certain death is only met with resentment and hostility from those in safe countries of whom refugees expected to be accepted and understood and treated with dignity and compassion.


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