Easton dunne

Melt Open’s branding and design has been inspired by Queensland artist Easton Dunne.


About the artist

Easton Dunne is an artist, artsworker and arts educator based in Central Queensland on Darumbal Country. Their work explores queer identity and experiences in rural and regional contexts through an autobiographical lens.

Dunne’s major solo exhibition, Welcome to Paradise, opened at Rockhampton Museum of Art in May 2023. Their recent solo exhibition, Main Drag, was shown at both Metro Arts in Meanjin/Brisbane and First Draft in Sydney on Gadigal Land in 2023. In 2024 their work will be shown at Melbourne Art Fair in First Draft’s group exhibition, Soft Cell. During 2022 they were invited to participate in Mighty Real, a group exhibition of work by LGBTQIAP+ artists curated by Todd Fuller, held at M. Contemporary in Sydney as part of Clifford Chance and Glamazon Pride Exhibition. 

About Welcome to Paradise

Welcome to Paradise is a large artwork. It’s made up from lots of signs and symbols and shapes that you would see if you were driving through Rockhampton on the highway. There’s lots of country symbolism relating to the cattle industry because I grew up on a cattle property west of Rockhampton on unceded Wadja and Ghungalu Country and that’s an important part of my own experiences in this area.

In the centre of the artwork is the text, Welcome to Paradise, and then brahman bulls and palm trees flanking it either side. That text comes from quite an iconic roundabout as you drive into Rockhampton that says, Welcome to Rockhampton on one side, and Farewell from Rockhampton on the other side. I wanted to use that text and change out the word Rockhampton to Paradise in an invitation to local people to think about who the area is supposed to be a paradise for, because that’s the word that’s commonly used in marketing that tells stories about this region’s identity.

I wanted to get people to think about whether or not it’s a paradise for queer communities in the area. It’s important to me that we move beyond telling stories about what it’s like to live in rural and regional areas that follow that stereotypical trope of if you’re queer and it’s a small town you have to get out in order to be yourself because I don’t think that gives people living in those areas many options, and I think it’s just too simplistic. I think we can tell stories that are a lot more nuanced, but I only speak about my own experiences. I can’t speak for everybody who lives in this area as a queer person.

Welcome to Paradise is also an unapologetic celebration of what it’s like to be a queer person living in Rockhampton, which probably sounds like the last place where you would find a queer utopia – I wonder what it would look like if we had a massive Mardi Gras up the main streets of Rockhampton and turned everything hot pink and fluffy. And so, it’s quite cool in that sense to see the work becoming the reference point for the branding for Melt Open.” – Easton Dunne

Photo: Photographer Obscura

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