Growing up in the bush in some degree of isolation, Gail became used to using creativity and innovation to provide both necessities and entertainment. However, it was not until her late 20s, after marriage and two children, that she sought a formal art education. After graduating with a Diploma of Creative Arts (Visual) from the University of Southern Queensland in 1990, she took part in several group exhibitions and was employed at the Toowoomba Base Hospital as Artist in Residence for two residencies.
In 1997 she took a step back from her career to concentrate on being a full-time single parent, and for the next 15-20 years her artwork was confined to occasional portraits, mascots and costuming.
In 2015 Gail joined a local Toowoomba group of artists known as the Russel St. Artists’ association. Producing mainly figurative sculptures in clay and mixed media, she exhibited in the group’s gallery and helped to run it until its closure in 2020. She also became Butterfly Costume Creator for the Woodford Folk Festival, working with the ‘Tree Huggers’ department to create wearable silk reproductions of local butterfly species. In 2017 she had enrolled once again as a student at USQ in a Bachelor of Creative Arts course, and although her intention was to major in Ceramics, she became interested in creating sculpture from found objects. This quite naturally combined with her passion for conservation and care for the planet, and she began to create with materials diverted from landfill, particularly plastics.
While still following her love of clay and ceramic work, she is now also following her love of large works combined with her care for the environment.
2021 SWELL ARTWORK – Drowning in Plastic, Gail Dawson
Approximately 5 trillion pieces of plastic are estimated to be floating around the world’s oceans. The total weight of plastic in the ocean is projected to outweigh marine life by 2050. In the last century, mankind has moved away from reusing and repurposing objects, embracing a high-consuming throwaway culture. Every piece of plastic that every individual has ever used is still here, and the world is choking on its own waste. This piece, created from non-degradable waste, is a monument to the overwhelming volume of plastics we discard.
SWELL Kids Artist Statement – Drowning in Plastic, Gail Dawson
This is about the amount of plastic we throw away. A lot of this ends up in the ocean, and is mistaken for food by sea creatures. When they eat it, the creatures starve because there is plastic in their stomachs instead of food. Most of this sculpture is made from plastic that people have used once then thrown away.
Come and see for yourself at SWELL Sculpture Festival, Pacific Parade, Currumbin 10-19 September.