Q&A with artist Christopher Day

Christopher Day is one of the 15 artists whose work features in our exhibition Under the sun: reimagining Max Dupain's Sunbaker, held in partnership with the Australian Centre for Photography - on show until 17 April. Christopher Day gives us some insights into how he approached reimagining the Sunbaker image. 

Black and white photograph of a hand by Christopher Day

Christopher Day, Untitled, 2017. Courtesy the artist. 

When did you first encounter the Sunbaker and what were your initial impressions of it?

I’m unsure exactly when I first encountered it, though it would have been a long time ago. Initially, what I found interesting about the image was its structure – the shoulders, arms and hand of the figure. Both then and now, those forms offer multiple and differing ideas, from the ancient pyramids to Philip Guston.

How did you reimagine the Sunbaker in your work?

There is a lot of information about the Sunbaker and what it means or may mean to us as Australians. I wanted to consider the image without its traditional, historical background and respond in a purely visual way. My image contains multiple points of reference without leading viewers to a pinpointed reading of the work.

What influenced the direction or medium for your work?

My response to the image was based purely on my own observations of the image, rather than what I knew or had previously read about the photograph.

What challenges did you face in creating this work?

As the Sunbaker stands as an icon for a particular Australian identity in our history, I found it difficult to imagine that there would be such a definitive icon of Australian identity today. We are extremely diverse in who we are and how we think and I wanted to allow any viewer of the image to bring their own associations to the work as a means of exemplifying this.

Has creating this work changed the way you think about the Sunbaker?

Yes, and particularly seeing how the other artists responded to it.