Dark Matter


Billy Shannon

Acrylic on canvas
102 x 152cm


Part of Billy Shannon’s Sleep series, thinking about the relationship between the dissolution of our consciousness of self as we pass into the abstract world of REM sleep cycles, the movement of dust in space, the potentials of dark matter and how stars are formed and destroyed in nebulae. Also about the way that dark matter pervades all of space and is constantly moving through us.

Shannon Berry Bam was a circus performer in Brisbane who frequently worked with Billy. Like almost all of the physical performers, her sleep is both restorative and highly active and almost every time Billy would look back from his canvas to her, she would be in a slightly different position, which inspired Billy to just keep painting her in the various new places and wait for Shannon to cycle around again to approximate positions to continue the work.

Not a lot is actually known about dark matter, it’s one of those things that physicists have theorised and seems to make sense, though they have no real proof of, it would just make life simpler for them if we believed in it…  There have been some quite expensive tests to prove the existence of dark matter, all pretty inconclusive so far. But it is an elegant theory. Essentially it is what may make up the slight density of the universe and is lightly charged.
Britannica’s website describes it as:
“Dark matter, a component of the universe whose presence is discerned from its gravitational attraction rather than its luminosity. Dark matter makes up 30.1 percent of the matter-energy composition of the universe; the rest is dark energy (69.4 percent) and “ordinary” visible matter (0.5 percent).”

Billy Shannon’s Dark Matter, the sleeping acrobat, Shannon is the essence of dark matter moving towards the ‘Eye of God’ nebula, which is in turn quietly watching all of our passing histories. The multiple imagery that’s developed through tracking the movements of the ‘Sleepers’ is a recurrent theme in a few of the sleep series paintings, notably in Broken Sleep and Stages of Sleep, both paintings of highly active physical performers.

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