Unnatural – place and being: connections under stress, 2011
7th October – 4th November 2011, Plimsoll Gallery Hunter Street
Curated By Dr Megan Keating
“Penny Burnett’s world hovers between enchanting fairytale and psychological triller. Through constructed narratives, Burnett conjurers a curious vision of the characters and personalities in a theatrical re-telling of her personal journey with IVF. This is her version of a modern day creation story, punctuated with art historical references and inside jokes. Strange potato faced creatures hide amongst the succulents in a claustrophobic Gondwanaland or Garden of Eden in Earthly Delights 2011, a galah looms ominously over a miniature hospitable bed that is more spectacle than menace in another work.
The viewer looks down onto these scenes, like peering into a Petri dish, and spies upon the unfolding narrative. This vantage point presents a scrutinising view. The viewer is able to ogle and pry into every corner and crevice of the scene. Within Burnett’s world the roles of the characters are fluid. The galah is both annunciating archangel and hysterical female flapping about in delirium in Gabriel 2011 and Mr Potato-head men portray the coveted progeny as well as the choose-your-own attributes of sperm donation in Mashed 2011. In Bang Bang 2011, medical staff and legal teams are represented as cardboard cut outs of currawongs who perch in corners overseeing the convoluted drama. Burnett’s vision of the mythical wild place at the end of the earth is populated with the desires and dreams of personal experience but her vision of a fabled Garden of Eden within the Tasmanian landscape id flawed with the taint of hospital disinfectant and endless doctor’s waiting rooms.”
– excerpt from Dr Megan Keating’s catalog essay Unnatural – place and being: connections under stress 2011