CONTEMPLATING ART: Patricia Piccinini

On Thursday 12th May, we welcome Patricia Piccinini for our first conversation, with Danny Lacy, Gallery Director of MPRG.


Danny was the Guest Judge of the Montalto Sculpture Prize 2021, and along with Creative Director Neil Williams will take guests on a guided walk of the Montalto Sculpture Trail from 10.30 am. This is as an optional extra.


Patricia Piccinini is a Melbourne based artist who explores the frontiers of science and technology through her sculptures, photographs, video and installation. Since the early 1990s, she has pursued an interest in the human form and its potential for manipulation and enhancement through bio-technological intervention. She is a crusader, getting joy from those things we know to be imperfect, for the values of compromise and community.


Patricia is best known for her mutant life-like creatures rendered in silicone and hair. From the start of her career her work has combined the cute and the grotesque, pitting our impulse to nurture against revulsion, but to encourage us to see the beauty of all created forms, however monstrous, deformed or artificial.


Born in Sierra Leone and raised in Canberra, Piccinini first attained a BA in Economic History at The Australian National University in 1988 and later a BA in Painting at the Victorian College of the Arts in 1991. In 2016 she was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Visual and Performing Arts by the University of Melbourne's Victorian College of the Arts and appointed their Enterprise Professor.


In 2003 Patricia represented Australia in the 50th Venice Biennale where an unprecedented 114 articles and reviews led to her international appreciation as a provocateur who’s thoughtful and inciteful works ticked so many contemporary boxes – from genetics to feminism to climate change.


Patricia is widely known and recognised for many varied works that span her career.


Patricia’s early sculptures include Car Nuggets (2001) which examined the naturalisation of technology in the contemporary world and then Still Life with Stem Cells (2002) featured a small child cradling a series of flesh-like masses. We Are Family (2003) was displayed at the Venice Biennale and depicts humanlike mutant figures behaving like humans, whilst the majestic Skywhale (a monumental hot-air balloon commissioned by the ACT Government for its Centenary year) first flew in Australia in 2013. In 2016 Project Graham was commissioned by the TAC as part of their road safety campaign ‘Towards Zero’ and in recent years the Skywhale family grew with Skywhalepapa (2020) due to fly over Melbourne on Saturday 19 March 2022.


Patricia’s most recent and documented exhibition A Miracle Constantly Repeated is part of Melbourne’s Rising Festival and features an eco-system of hyper-real silicone sculptures, video, sound and light in the mysterious upstairs rooms of Flinders Street Station. The exhibition has been a highlight in Melbourne’s Arts program in 2021/22 and is open until Saturday 12 June 2022.


We look forward to welcoming you to Montalto for Contemplating Art.


~ John & Wendy Mitchell, Heidi Williams


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