Kate Beynon presents a new body of work where she explores her personal interest in anatomical imagery interwoven with references inspired by the historically significant botanical artist Yun Bing from the Qing dynasty, renowned for her 17th century paintings of flowering plants. Shaped by interests in storytelling, mixed cultural identity and feminist strategies, Beynon’s otherworldly visions of multi-dimensional species respond to recent theories surrounding the impact of human actions on our complex and damaged world.
She contemplates the environmental and cultural detriment ignited by the subjugation of both human and animal ‘others’ for power and economical gain, in Australia’s colonial legacy and worldwide, and in counterpoint the need to challenge ongoing oppressions and re-think human connection toward ethical-social ways of living on Earth.
Beynon’s mythic and supernatural characters are proposed as creatures for social change, and transformation. They exist in-between spaces, of fluid and intersectional identity formations, both self and collective. Through these works Beynon further develops her re-imagined Gorgon, Fox Spirit, Goddess, Alienne and Blue Shaman characters as multi-limbed contemporary guardian figures. Intertwined with botanical motifs such as lotus, ginkgo, loquat, and tangerine trees, cactus and sansevieria plants, including some from Beynon’s garden, the works are imbued with their various medicinal, healing and symbolic meanings and related anatomical associations. Forming what could be described as ceremonial or festive costumes that become an ‘armour of allies’, the works flourish with multi-species lifeforms. Alongside the installation of suspended textile sculptural objects, they seek to act as protective amulets and exude talismanic presence. Beynon’s defiant new body of work resists ongoing determinations to categorise, separate and suppress, and through vibrant colour, shimmering metallic pigments and shifting forms, promotes ‘good spirits’ to take heart and retain hope in our precarious world.
Born in Hong Kong and arriving in Australia in 1973, Beynon graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts in 1993, and completed her PhD in Fine Art by Research, Monash University in 2017. She has exhibited widely in Australia and internationally, with recent solo highlights including the Room of Lucky Charms, an immersive installation for people of all abilities commissioned for the Jackson Bella Room by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2017-18; Friendly Beasts in collaboration with the Children’s Art Centre at QAGOMA, Brisbane, 2017; Other Worlds: Creatures of the In-between, at Glen Eira City Council Gallery, 2017, PhD exhibition undertaken through MADA: Monash Art Design and Architecture; and An Li: A Chinese Ghost Tale at the TarraWarra Museum of Art, Healesville, 2015. Recent group exhibitions include Faraway, so closecurated by Anthony Fitzpatrick at Arts Project Australia, 2017; Romancing the Skull, Ballarat Art Gallery 2017-18; The 2017 Archibald Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Geelong Gallery and touring, with international highlights Re-Picturing the Feminine, OED Gallery, Kochi, India, 2012-13 and Global Feminisms, Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York, 2007. In 2016 she was awarded the Geelong Contemporary Art Prize. Beynon has collaborated on ethical fashion projects with social initiatives, The Social Studio, Melbourne and The Social Outfit, Sydney, 2018. She has presented regular solo exhibitions at Sutton Gallery since 1996.Artist’s profile