Alex Seton
My concerns will outlive yours

Alex Seton, Australia, born 6 April 1977, My concerns will outlive yours, 2011, Sydney, Wombeyan marble, stainless steel eyelets, halyard, 28.0 x 155.0 x 75.0 cm; Gift of the Art Gallery of South Australia Foundation 2011, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, © Alexander Seton, photo: Per Ericson.

About this work of art

In the tradition of the great Italian Renaissance sculptors such as Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci, Alex Seton transforms hard and unyielding stone into soft drapery and nuanced form. Whereas the Renaissance masters sought to evoke the solemnity of classical antiquity, the Sydney multidisciplinary artist has turned his attention to important contemporary socio-political issues. Seaton, a graduate of the College of Fine Arts, at the University of Sydney, has received numerous awards and residencies in Australia and overseas, and has spent significant periods of his career studying Renaissance marbles in Italy. Seton grew up in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales and it was there that he first came across the abandoned Wombeyan marble quarry; he credits this early connection to the stone with inspiring his love of marble sculpture.

Exquisitely carved from a single block of marble, this work represents a dead young boy shrouded in a flag. The sculpture embodies deep emotion and immediately conjures representations of the dead and shrouded Christ from religious iconography. Yet, Seton’s work remains decidedly contemporary – situated in the here and now.  It evokes memories of the senseless loss of life  that was occurring during the War in Afghanistan at the time it was created, triggered a decade earlier by the September 11 terrorist attacks of 2001.

The title of the work, My concerns will outlive yours, points not only to the lineage of sacrifices made in the past but to the perpetuation of martyrdom – with continuing generations  surrendering their lives to an inherited cause.

Audio description of the work of art

My concerns will outlive yours is a sculpture, 155cm long, 75cm wide and 28cm high, created by the artistAlex Seton, in 2011. It made from Australian Wombeyan marble, stainless steel eyelets, and halyard rope. Halyard rope is a line traditionally used to hoist a flag or sail.

The object, laid on a black plinth and sculptured from glossy, almost-white, marble, is a child’s body wrapped as though for a sea burial, in a canvas flag, with no markings. It is as though the fabric in which the small body has been wrapped and tucked is too big for its meagre prize.

Adjacent to the figure’s material-covered feet are two eyelets and a short piece of rope is attached to one of the eyelets and coiled. Though covered, the form beneath is unmistakably human.

A child’s features push into the material covering, a smooth forehead and nose, a small mound at the chin. Creases and tucks are formed to define a head. The cloth dips, outlining the vulnerability of a human neck, and then rises, suggesting a chest, with arms laid close to the body on either side. Three diagonal creases form across the chest, pelvis, and thighs. The marble has an ethereal quality, marred by swirling, watermark-like imperfections, and light veins.

Lit from above, shadows are cast in the sculpture’s hollows and under hems.