Encounters

Span Galleries, Melbourne, 2004
Tin Sheds gallery, Sydney, 2003

This work delves into the world of intricately constructed and sometimes gory museum tableau, where stuffed and pinned participants act out fictitious encounters of the natural world.

Tableaux are designed to stimulate our imagination about the natural world. Scenes are carefully constructed and framed for our enjoyment. These images are of Australian birds and insects. While they may be well known, real life encounters remain rare to most Australians.

The images depict scenes of day to day survival. A butterfly rests peacefully while a robin watches nearby. Pelicans mull around under a bizarre orange sky, while a wedge tail eagle examines its prey.

The colours and painted aspects of the scenes are exaggerated to reflect this artificial relationship to the real. Frames are left to emphasize the tableau construction while lights and reflections glisten on the glass creating bizarre artificial moons.

This work reminds us of the natural world we know is out there but rarely encounter. Increasingly removed from nature, this is as close as many people get to the real thing. A simulated natural encounter, preserved forever in tableau and photographic form.

I would like to acknowledge the Museum of South Australia for providing access to the collection.

Image one from the Encounters series - Sea Birds, 2003, 80 x 80 cm, lambda print. Image two from the Encounters series - Pelicans, 2003, 80 x 80 cm, lambda print. Image three from the Encounters series - Wedge Tailed Eagle and Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby, 2003, 80 x 80 cm, lambda print. Image four from the Encounters series - Barn Owls, 2003, 80 x 80 cm, lambda print. Image five from the Encounters series - Scarlet Robin and Wanderer Butterflies, 2003, 80 x 80 cm, lambda print. Image six from the Encounters series - Wedge Tailed Eagle, 2003, 80 x 80 cm, lambda print. Image seven from the Encounters series - Birds of Paradise, 2003, 80 x 80 cm, lambda print. Image eight from the Encounters series - Willy wagtail, 2003, 80 x 80 cm, lambda print.