This exhibition, held in conjunction with the International Minding Animals conference to be hosted by The University of Newcastle from 13 – 18 July, explores our changing relationship with animals. Work by leading contemporary artists Patricia Piccinini, Danie Mellor and Cherry Hood will be included in the exhibition.
On Animal Attraction
The colonisers’ first encounter with the antipodean animal world was with exotic creatures – with animals such as the kangaroo and the platypus - animals that seemed to belie both science and nature. But as the population grew and life became increasingly urban and suburban, our relationship with animals became increasingly domestic and intimate. They became pets, friends and co-workers. Drawn entirely from the Gallery’s collection, this exhibition focuses on our domestic and co-dependent relationship with other animals. Dogs, cats, horses, cows and goats represented in drawings, paintings, prints and sculptures proliferate. These works of art supplant the exotic species that captured our first artists’ imaginations.
It is the decline of native Australian fauna that has provided the inspiration for Patricia Piccinini’s Surrogate (for the northern hairy nosed wombat). Despite the futuristic appearance of the creature and its habitat, this work is borne out of fact as much as fiction. Scientists are currently experimenting with the use of the common wombat as a surrogate for its rare cousin, the northern hairy nosed wombat. As a scientific cure-all it promises to save the near extinct wombat, an antipodean rarity found in only one place on earth. Piccinini provokes her audience with the question; could we save the species we have threatened by creating a genetically engineered host?
Visitors to the Gallery are also able to meet The offering 2009, a work of art by internationally renowned artist Patricia Piccinini. Breaking gallery tradition, The Offering is a tactile work of art that visitors are invited to touch and feel.
“With its soft skin and infantile features, the baby creature evokes an urge to touch and parent, its expression one of comfort and contentedness.”
Ron Ramsey, Director, Newcastle Art Gallery
A prototype for a later work, The offering is an extraordinary creature whose vulnerability belies an exploration of the consequences of genetic engineering.