Growth at all Costs!

Art Life , Exhibitions May 18, 2015 No Comments

From Sharne Wolff

The timing of Penelope Cain’s new exhibition couldn’t be better with the latest Federal budget having been released just last week – not long enough for buzzwords like ‘growth’, ‘costs’ and ‘capital’ to stop ringing in our ears. As it turns out, these words are reflected in the titles of Cain’s new work where the theme focuses on the march of contemporary capitalism and the increasing cost of living in Australian cities. Several shield-like pieces incorporate these words alongside motifs of birds, chains and abstracted images in order to “propose a visual depiction of [these] economic phrases and terms”.


Employing a variety of materials that include sequins, glue, maps, fabric, rubber and fly screen mesh, Cain’s pieces have been particularly inspired by the spatial layout of Sydney development as portrayed in the Rorschach-style Growth Solution #1, comprised entirely of black sequins. Meanwhile, alongside the cranes and scaffolding of a large piece entitled The Three Wise Men Look Towards the Crown Casino Building Site are several portraits drawn from art history. Pointing the finger at the current generation of male property developers and head-nodding politicians, Cain’s reprised ‘three wise men’ – scientist Georg von Neumayer (from Eugene Von Guerard’s painting North East View From the Northern Top of Mt Kosciusko), explorer James Cook (from John Mortimer’s The Discovery of Captain Cook) and Robert Andrews (from Thomas Gainsborough’s Mr and Mrs Andrews) – are all depicted in land ownership mode.

Until May 30
A-M Gallery, Newtown
Pic: Penelope Cain, Growth Solution #1: Sydney 2015, Sequins, glue, maps, fabric, 160 x 95cm framed. Courtesy artist and A-M Gallery.

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Sharne Wolff

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