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An exhibition going ballistic over animals

Feathers, fur, fish and fowl! Figments of fantasy! Fellow foragers and friends on Planet Earth. ANIMALISTIC consists of about fifty works selected from the Edith Cowan University Art Collection.

The images are predominantly of animals found in Australia, but not necessarily indigenous to it. They include the crow, rabbits, the thylacine, swamp hens, a fly, horses, cattle and frogs. Following in the tradition of the University’s recent touring shows About Face and Listen to the Land, the exhibition is organized around a theme of broad relevance: the importance of animals in all aspects of human life. The exhibition’s acknowledgment and celebration of this subject is conveyed by its name.

Within the larger frame, the works are presented in four thematic categories: Animals as friends and companions; animals in myth, magic and imagination; animals as a resource to be used by human beings, and a group of works which comment provocatively on animals on earth over time, exploring issues such as conservation and ecology.

The exhibition has a deliberately Australian bias. There are works by Australian artists of international repute, such as Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd and John Olsen, a generous representation of Aboriginal work and many pieces by West Australians. In the same spirit, there is eclecticism in both media and style. Acrylic sits alongside oil, charcoal, pencil, photomontage, watercolour and digital imagery. Realism brushes against abstract, cartooning against the naïve.

Younger audiences are particularly targeted, with educational packs for both secondary and primary students. It is expected that the individual galleries will arrange attractions to complement the exhibition. Watch out for animal-mask workshops, pet performances and parades, animalistic musical accompaniment (perhaps The Purple People-Eater and How Much Is That Doggy In the Window? Or for the more cerebral, The Flight of the Bumblebee and The Carnival of the Animals) and various other surprises.

The exhibition opens in Fremantle in May 2003 and will tour regional galleries (Geraldton, Bunbury, Katanning, Ballidu, Kalgoorlie, Mandurah) until mid-2005, further enhancing ECU’s already excellent reputation for promoting art, art education and art audience development.

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