Love and intimacy explored through the eyes of Patricia Piccinini and Joy Hester in major new exhibition

Press Release, 30 August 2018

Love and intimacy will be the focus of a major new exhibition at TarraWarra Museum of Art that pairs the work of globally renowned artist Patricia Piccinini with that of important Australian modernist Joy Hester.

Opening on 24 November 2018, Patricia Piccinini and Joy Hester: Through love … will present more than 50 works, including a major new sculpture by Piccinini and rarely-seen works by Hester, that show the incredible spectrum of human and non-human relationships, from romantic love and maternal devotion through to the connections formed between humans and animals, and animate and inanimate objects.

As part of the exhibition, Piccinini’s iconic, infrequently-seen 34m-long hot air balloon Skywhale, originally created for the Centenary of Canberra in 2013, will visit the Yarra Valley and take flight. Further details to be released soon.

Melbourne-based artist Piccinini is known for her large-scale, life-like sculptures of hybrid forms that often fuse together human and animal characteristics to examine the increasingly blurred boundary between the artificial and natural worlds. Her early practice was profoundly influenced by the work of Hester (1920-60), a member of Melbourne’s ‘Heide circle’ who was acclaimed for highly personal brush and ink drawings that evoked emotional extremes from passion to loneliness.

In a world first, Through love … will exhibit Hester’s ink and paper works as touchstones for Piccinini’s extraordinary sculptures, photography, video works and drawings. Alongside a new work developed especially for TarraWarra Museum of Art, Piccinini will be represented by some of her most important sculptures including The Young Family 2002; Nest 2006; Doubting Thomas 2008; The Lovers 2011; Kindred 2018; and TarraWarra Museum of Art collection work Thicker than Water 2007.

Through love… will draw upon Hester’s famous series Love 1949, and Lovers 1955-56, which portray intimacy in the form of couples joined together (so much so that their faces often share an eye), including key loans from the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Heide Museum of Modern Art, private collections and seminal works from the Museum’s own collection.

Victoria Lynn, Director, TarraWarra Museum of Art, said, ‘This is the first exhibition to explore the parallels between the works of Joy Hester and Patricia Piccinini, relating Hester’s expressionistic ink portraits of lovers to Piccinini’s depictions of intermingled human, non-human and hybrid forms.’

Patricia Piccinini said, ‘The work of Joy Hester had a formative influence upon my early practice. Her portrayals of intimacy without borders – the figures merging into each other and becoming one – spoke to my desire to explore identity and our sense of self, subjects that I have returned to throughout my career.’

Hester similarly investigated ideas of love and identity: as she remarked in a letter to Sunday Reed in 1947, ‘How can I love [him] when he is me … He is the ‘man’ of me and I am the ‘woman’ of him … part man, part woman … It’s like a puzzle piecing oneself together.’

Coinciding with TarraWarra Museum of Art’s 15th anniversary, Through love … continues the Museum’s aim of connecting with the history of modernism through the filter of contemporary art. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue and diverse range of public programs.

Through love … is only possible thanks to the generous support of major exhibition partner, The Balnaves Foundation, whose ongoing partnership has enabled TarraWarra Museum of Art to present ambitious summer exhibitions over the past three years.

Neil Balnaves AO, Founder, The Balnaves Foundation said, ‘The exhibition Patricia Piccinini and Joy Hester: Through love … will be the fourth year that The Balnaves Foundation has supported TarraWarra Museum of Art to deliver exhibitions of note by Australian artists. The Foundation is proud to partner in these major endeavours, providing vital opportunities for important Australian artists to be showcased, whilst providing a broad range of audiences access to outstanding arts experiences.’

Patricia Piccinini and Joy Hester: Through love … will be on display at TarraWarra Museum of Art, 313 Healesville-Yarra Glen Road, Healesville, from 24 November 2018 – 11 March 2019. Exhibition admission fees apply – $12.00 Adults; $10.00 Seniors; $8.00 Pensioners and Students; Children 12 and under free.