Gallery 139 show focuses on famous last words

Special words: Ahn Wells (and Coco) near one of Simone Paterson's works at Gallery 139. Picture: Jim Kellar

Special words: Ahn Wells (and Coco) near one of Simone Paterson's works at Gallery 139. Picture: Jim Kellar

Gallery 139 has embraced the Newcastle Writers Festival this weekend with an provocative techno pop exhibition, Last Words, by Simone Paterson.

Paterson was awarded a doctorate in Philosophy/Fine Arts from the University of Newcastle in 2005 for research based on cyborg culture. She is currently an associate professor in creative technologies at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Virginia, in the US.

Last Words explores human mortality through the immortalisation of last words spoken by ‘famous’ people. It uses photography, machine embroidery and animated text in a series of 12 works.

Among the famous people are Prince, Ned Kelly, Karl Marx, Breaker Morant, Amelia Earhart, Timothy Leary and Tiny Tim.

The works feature an image of the person along with what is generally believed to be their final spoken words. Paterson has researched each work and provided an accompanying explanation of the circumstances surrounding each person’s final words.

“It’s definitely more conceptual and considered and academic than the shows I usually have,” gallery owner and director Ahn Wells says. 

The exhibition’s official opening is Saturday, 2 to 4pm, at the gallery, 139 Beaumont Street, Hamilton. Paterson will attend the opening and also give an artist’s talk on Sunday at noon at the gallery.

Wells wanted to have a show that was complementary to the Newcastle Writers Festival, which runs this weekend, and Last Words fulfills that mission.

Paterson’s research into Karl Marx offers that while the final line on his tombstone is “Workers of All Lands Unite,” his last spoken words were to his housekeeper: “Go on get out! Last words are for foods who haven’t said enough.”

For Prince, one of the most-respected and flamboyant musical personalities of the modern era, the image carries the words, “I am #transformed,” one of his last tweets before dying last year.

The original works are for sale, as well as a selection of prints of works from the exhibition.

The show runs through April 22.