Collection: Jamie Cole - WELCOME TO PARADISE


Foyer Wall | NorthSite Contemporary Arts

Mid-career Australian artist Jamie Cole presents his first solo exhibition in Cairns this October, since moving to the region in early 2022. This collection of 10 large urban pop paintings entitled ‘Welcome to Paradise’ reflects on Cole’s quirky observations, encounters and story-telling of this unique part of far north Queensland.

Cole offers a central narrative that focuses on the precarious and culturally unique elements fundamental to Cairns and the far north region, including local iconography lifted from crazy-ants, stingers and crocodile warning signage; as well as local advertising, popular culture and suburban life.

Cole’s new work reinvents some pop classics, like Andy Warhol’s ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans’ into Cole’s Soup Cairns, a cheeky homophone; and Warhol’s ‘Bananas’ given new energy by the road-side Banana Carts in and around Cairns.

No stranger to the far north, a much-loved holiday destination, it was with fresh eyes that Cole began to interpret his new ‘home’; and with eagerness absorb ‘warnings’, from earnest and well-meaning locals; warnings like “Crocs are Real” and “Stingers can Kill”. It was these phrases and the overuse of terms like “paradise” and “resort lifestyle” by resident realtors that spring-boarded Cole’s new art-making and the ‘Welcome to Paradise’ project.

As the many layers of Cairns social and political landscape revealed itself to Cole, the depth and complexity of the work also changed. Clearly visible in ‘Welcome to Paradise’ and ‘Stinger can Kill’, initially fun, bold expressions of FNQ, the imagery is now ‘hidden’ behind a ‘whitewash’ of Lichtenstein-style portraits.

Staying true to Cole’s background in graphic design and illustration, this new survey incorporates bold typography, animation, spray painted stencils, and layers of exhaustive painting and imagery, some historic, some new, but all uniquely Jamie.

Words by Bruce Ferguson BA (Fine Arts and English Literature) Sydney University