Simon Bayliss Kangaroo

Creativity, history and the notion of rural queer identity: Simon Bayliss Kangaroo Beach and Past-Oral at the Exeter Phoenix

Apparently, ‘There really is a beach in Western Australia where kangaroos swim in the sea and sunbathe afterward,’ according to Mary Reufle. It’s Mary’s intriguing essay that has inspired Simon Bayliss’s new show Kangaroo Beach at the Exeter Phoenix.

Simon’s work explores ‘conflicting feelings of respect and irreverence for a place that is steeped in proud artistic and cultural history.

Kangaroo Beach

And Kangaroo Beach aims to ‘tease out ideas on intersections between the local and the international; traditional crafts and contemporary practice; and queer culture and rural identity’.

Simon’s latest video work Kangaroo Beach shares the title with the show and is ‘inspired by American poet Mary Reufle’s essay of the same name on the subject of sincerity and irreverence.

“It features a disconcerting collection of appropriated footage, in which muscular, buck kangaroos suggest an uncanny sense of ‘the other’ whilst also reflecting ideas around macho surf culture, of posturing and body-building, all set to the artist’s own dance music composition,” says the blurb.

“Further works include a series of slipware plates informed by studio pottery and the legacy of Bernard Leach and Michael Cardew, and a collection of text paintings presenting the artist’s short poems inspired by the Japanese form of Haiku and Senryu.”


Alongside this exhibition in the Exeter Phoenix’s main gallery is his Past-Oral, from 2015.

Past-Oral ‘reflects the artist’s on-going exploration of conflicting feelings and problems associated with romanticising the countryside – particularly in contemporary art – as well as the recurring motif of Arcadia within queer film, literature and painting, as a pastoral utopia away from public scrutiny’.

Simon, who is based in St Ives, told Exeter Living: “Recently I’ve been pre-occupied with the notion of rural queer identity.

“Non-urban areas can be inhibiting places for people with minority sexualities and many need to relocated to find communities in cities.

“For me, remaining rural has become both a political stand and romantic endeavour.”


Exhibition Preview and Performance Event
Thu 11 Jan | 6-8pm | free

Artists Talk
Sat 3 Feb | 2.30pm | free
Join the artist as he discusses his exhibition and wider practice.

Last Wednesday Series Talk
Wed 31 Jan | 5pm
Simon Bayliss will discuss the development of his practice in association with Exeter School of Art.


Simon Bayliss |