Fernando do Campo: Billy Goat Swamp

Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert is pleased to announce Fernando do Campo’s first solo exhibition with the gallery, Billy Goat Swamp.


Responding to our complex and ever-changing relationship to animals, Fernando do Campo’s Billy Goat Swamp uses figurative painting in order to make sense of the knotted connections between the notion of history and the notion of animal. Revealing Sydney’s rarely narrated animal histories, the exhibition traces the 19th - 20th century shift in how we imagine living with animals.


Using archival research, fieldwork and painting, do Campo’s paintings uncover these untold stories; The giant aviary that stood on the current site of the succulent gardens at Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG); the bear pits still present at Sydney Girls High in Moore Park; the squirrels that lived throughout Mosman until the 1970s released at Taronga for aesthetic reasons; the elephant named Jessie that walked down George St and jumped on a ferry to move to Taronga before the bridge was built.


Billy Goat Swamp stems from a two-year Artist in Residence at the State Library of NSW looking into the archives of the Acclimatization Society of NSW to identify the plants and animals that were first introduced into the colony and which may still be encountered in Sydney. The Acclimatization Society went on to establish an early zoo at the RBG, later the Sydney Zoological Society at Billy Goat Swamp, Moore Park, and eventually Taronga Zoo.


Drawing from incredible photographic material and working closely with collections and staff at the RBG, Sydney Living Museums and Taronga Zoo, Fernando do Campo’s practice maintains what he calls ‘one foot in the field and one foot in the archive’. As he navigates his own affinity for both birdwatching and museum collections, do Campo investigates our response to animals as colonial markers, as entertainment, as education, as an environmentalist project. Proposing that these tangled narratives of animals and humans are present everywhere around us in urban centres, do Campo critically reveals animal historiographies in order to question our own history as humans.


Fernando do Campo (b. Mar del Plata, 1987) lives and works in Sydney. His practice is interested in the animals carried by history and the histories carried by animals. Fernando do Campo has presented work widely in solo and group exhibitions both in Australia and internationally. Solo exhibitions include: To companion a companion, Contemporary Arts Tasmania, Hobart; UNSW Galleries, Sydney; and Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Perth (2021), Yet to live in a place without house sparrows, Burnie Regional Gallery, Tasmania (2020), The Kookaburra Self-Relocation Project, WHOSLAUGHINGJACKASS MONA FOMA, Tasmania (2020), The towneys watched back, Ararat Regional Gallery, Victoria (2017), I always hear you before I see you, Praxis Gallery, New York (2017), Localized Contagion, Praxis Gallery, New York (2015), Figure behind a lake, Australian Consulate, New York (2015), Come away closer, Northern Centre for Contemporary Art, Darwin (2014). Do Campo is a recipient of awards including Australia Council for the Arts, Australian Regional Arts Fund, Arts Tasmania, Ian Potter Cultural Trust, Create NSW, and The New School, New York. Artist residencies include Chelsea Westminster Hospital, London; Cite International des Arts, Paris and BMUKK, Austrian Ministry of Culture, Vienna. Do Campo is a Sir General John Monash Foundation Scholar, the first artist to ever receive the prestigious award. Do Campo is currently Artist in Residence at the State Library of NSW and Lecturer at UNSW Art & Design, Sydney. His major solo exhibition To companion a companion will tour Australia nationally from 2021 - 2023 including to Contemporary Art Tasmania, Hobart; UNSW Galleries, Sydney; and Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, Perth.