Distinct from her sculptures in the round, Patricia Piccinini’s ‘paintings’ featuring silicone and hair grow directly from her drawings and as such are the most immediate of her works. Ambiguous forms emerge from the surface – primal and secreting. Described as drawings made flesh, these works eschew the hyper-realism of her free-standing sculptures to embody the third space of ambiguity and enigma.

Made for Divided Worlds, The Avian Trilogy (Eagle in flight with helmets) features an eagle conjured from human hair, springing forth from the corporeal canvas. Here, hair supplants feathers, with both sharing an evolutionary necessity in their provision of protection and warmth. But unlike feathers, hair can engender a visceral response. While the hair of another can invoke feelings of love and tenderness and can trigger memory, human hair found in the wrong place can induce horror and disgust. It is these seeming contradictions, between life and lifelessness, delight and revulsion, familiarity and foreignness, that compel Piccinini.


The artist gratefully acknowledges the support of the Faculty of VCA + MCM, University of Melbourne in
her research