Destiny Deacon 'Regal Eagles' light jet print from polaroid 1994/2004. Image taken from 'Destiny Deacon: Walk and don't look blak' exhibition catalogue MCA Sydney 2004

Destiny Deacon

Born 1957 Maryborough, Queensald. K’ua K’ua and Erub/Mer. Lives and works Melbourne

Regal Eagles 1994/2004


Destiny Deacon’s studio is her own home where, in collaboration with fellow artist Virginia Fraser, she creates and photographs tableau utilising her friends, relatives, dolls and a vast collection of kitsch Indigenous paraphernalia. Her work is recognised for its cutting commentary on race relations in Australia combined with her dark and ironic sense of humour. When describing her creative process she says:


First I labour for an idea, one that usually ends up being sad or pathetic, and then during the agony process of getting the image done, somehow things take a turn towards the ironic. Humour cuts deep. I like to think that there’s a laugh and a tear in each picture. [1]

Marcia Langton describes Deacon’s work as a commentary on colonial and post colonial iconography,


(Deacon’s) work serves as a barometer of postcolonial anxiety, as a window of understanding for new generations of Australians turning away from the psychosis of the colonial relationship, but seeking to establish a considered and meaningful grammar of images in an environment full of colonial memories. [2]

In Regal Eagles Deacon has combined two images, on the left two young white children clutching disposable British flags on sticks with a black doll discarded, spreadeagled on the ground below them. On the right another doll wearing an Aboriginal flag t-shirt is again spreadeagled, pinned onto a board surrounded by tourist kitsch that appropriates Indigenous totems and designs. Her head is resting against small British flags, similar to those the boys are clutching.

Deacon says she uses dolls in her tableau as she can “get them to do what I want”. However, the affect these dolls have in her works is noted by curator Blair French,

Deacon’s work draws strongly on the manner in which dolls and toys function as early objects of affection. Her dolls have an extraordinary sense of vitality and personality. They act up, asserting their presence, making the violence done to them all the more potent. [3]

[1] Langton, Marcia, Destiny Deacon: Walk and don’t look blak exhibition catalogue MCA, Sydney 2004 p.74
[2] Langton, Marcia, Destiny Deacon: Walk and don’t look blak exhibition catalogue MCA, Sydney 2004 p.45
[3] French, Blair & Palmer, Daniel Twelve Australian photo artists Piper Press, Annandale, N.S.W. 2008 p. 110