Solo Exhibition
Sophie Gannon Gallery, Melbourne, Australia

Photographs by Tarryn Gill
Belly of the Beast

In recent years Tarryn Gill years has constructed a personal universe populated by mythical beings, ancestor spirits and assorted demons. Part temple, part fairground, these theatrical installations are a projection of the artist’s psyche, where the residues of a 1980s WA childhood merge with the ritual power of objects and images in ancient art and the
seductions of twenty first century consumer culture. The first of this series envisioned the artist’s own tomb. Her dismembered body was watched over by a squad of monstrous guardians: Jim Henson-esque creatures with skins of lycra and spangles, evoking the costumes that Gill wore through more than a decade of competitive calisthenics.
Despite their mass produced materials, these labour-intensive sculptures, bearing the mark of the maker, are auratic, evoking the sacred within the sterile space of the gallery. The latest instalment of this series, Belly of the Beast, explores themes of duality, particularly death and rebirth through pairings such as the sun and the moon and symbols of regeneration such as snakes. The title refers to the hero’s journey described by Joseph Campbell: the trial through which one emerges transformed. Sculptures appear in relief and on an architectural scale, referencing Francesco del Cossa’s ‘Allegory of Spring’ and Leonora Carrington’s drawings. The feminine features as a source of uncanny power, the girlhood that threatens and forms the stuff of dark fantasies like Carrie, Heathers, and Let the Right One In. The aesthetics that infantalise, sexualise and debase girlhood are here invested with magical, demonic power.

Written by Dr Theo Costantino for the exhibition catalogue.