Talitha Kennedy

Sydney-based artist Talitha Kennedy’s new series of sculptures and works on paper embody the paradox of natural forces in a constructed world. The artist’s process-driven approach and idiosyncratic use of materials conjure corporeal allegories of renewal and destruction – ‘palpable voids’ that explore what it is to be alive in a transient existence. Imbued with personal sentiment, the works distil Kennedy’s inner world into the realm of the external, bringing into question her concerns with belonging to country, intimacy with landscape and existential flux.

Kennedy’s hand-stitched soft sculptures interpret organic forms as hybrids of plant, body and landscape to visualise nature’s macabre presence. Made with industrialised animal skin, the works draw on our fraught relationship with the natural world, precipitating the tension between contemporary comfort and unease. The black leather objects reference fetishism and ritualism, bringing to mind humanity’s proclivity for both venerating and exploiting the non-human. They illustrate a psychological landscape of control and surrender, where decay and death pave the path for things anew.

The sculptures and drawings are symbolic gestures of living and dying, fleshing out Kennedy’s felt experiences of being in the world and of the world. In works such as Shoots & Points (2018) and Heart Mountain (2018), the stitched leather veneer appears to swell and stretch with a hidden life force, evoking the theme of fecundity that is so central to Kennedy’s practice – profoundly influenced by the artist’s time living in the tropics of Northern Australia. And yet they also appear as post-mortem relics, their cold coal-like surfaces marked with the lacerations and scars of a former life.

Kennedy’s textile practice guides her approach to drawing, which functions as exercises in filling time and overcoming emptiness; a doodle as heroic gesture. Intuitive stitch-like marks of pen and ink follow the wrinkles and slopes of crumpled paper, evoking surfaces of transience – cobwebs, shadows, reflections.

Referring to forms seen in the natural world whilst comprising materials and techniques of the built environment, the works in ‘Palpable Voids’ ultimately interpret the widening tensions between human culture and the ‘natural’.

Talitha Kennedy | Palpable Voids
27 September – 22 October 2018
MARS Gallery, Melbourne


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