Some thoughts about my practice

by Patricia Piccinini (2020)

I am interested in relationships: the relationship between the artificial and the natural, between humans and the environment. The relationships between beings, within families and between strangers. And the relationship between the audience and the artwork.

My work is never about one thing alone, it is always about a family or an ecosystem. Even when a creature is alone there is a relationship with the viewer.

Over the years, I have built up a sort of alternative world that exists just beyond the real world we live in. It is strange but familiar at the same time. It exists as moments, objects and images the overlap with the real world in gallery space. For this exhibition I wanted to bring this entire world to life.

This is a world where things mix and intermingle, where nothing stays in it's place. It is a world where animal, plant, machine and human unite and commingle. We have to ask ourselves, if it is so hard to figure out where one thing starts and another ends, can we really continue to believe in the barriers that separate us.

In a world where the cultural and the natural - the technological and organic - are ever more intermingled, this wilderness is my symbolic representation of a place where technology has become so natural that it takes on a life of it's own.


Obviously there are many kinds of relationships: impersonal relationships, business relationships, intimate relationships, conceptual relationships, difficult relationships, supportive relationships. My work spans a lot of these. Relationships are coloured by the emotional qualities that you bring to them. A relationship based on jealously or anxiety will have a very different flavour from one built on curiosity or care. I am especially interested in relationships built around empathy.


Connection and empathy are at the heart of my practice, and at the heart of this exhibition. Many of the works are beings of one sort or another; creatures. The word creature comes from middle english and means literally ‘something created’. My creatures are just that, imaginary beings that are almost possible. They are not always traditionally beautiful, but they always have a beauty and an honesty within them. They are more vulnerable than threatening. People sometimes find their strangeness off-putting at first, but they usually learn to see past this. The creatures literally appeal to the audience’s empathy, they entreat the viewer to look beyond their strangeness and see the connections.

Unnamed emotions

Research has shown that emotions are learned. They are cultural as well as personal. There are some emotions that we don't have name for, or that only exist in other languages. I am particularly interested in a feeling that we don't seem to have a word for in English. I would describe it as the realisation of a feeling of warmth towards something that you were previously disturbed by. It is a sort of anti-xenophobia, and it is interesting to me that we have a word for xenophobia but not for this. 'Xenophilia' is something different, it is a love of this exotic. This is more about realising that the 'xeno' is not actually so strange.

If I want the viewers to get anything from my work it is this experience of a journey from disturbance to warmth.


It is no coincidence that the majority of my sculptures have the same hair and eye colour as I do. Skin colour and features are deeply meaningful and political and I am very uncomfortable with the implications of speaking for the experience of someone different from me. There are many wonderful artists of colour and I feel that it is not my place to attempt to represent them, their bodies or experiences. Also, in a practice that often mixes human and animal features I have to be very wary of the history of racist representations that use such tropes, as well as 'blackface'. I feel ok mixing my own features with those of animals, but I do not presume that I can do that with somebody else's features. It is sad for me is this leads to a reduced diversity in the work, because I honestly hope to reach out to everybody, but some sort of fake or token inclusivity is worse I think. I would love to include more divestitures in my work but it needs to be genuinely understood, and I would need an invitation.


I am interested in telling stories about the world we live in. That is one of the reasons I'm interested in science. Because science is the dominant language used to explain the world to us. In the past it was religion or myth, but now it is science that explains how the world works and also becomes the expression for how we want the world to be, or how we fear it might end up. At the very edge of science we end up talking about how the world might be, and that is wonderful place for an artist to explore.


In terms of art history, I am drawn to Surrealism and nineteen century social realism. For me, both of these movements are attempts to represent social reality at a time of dramatic change. The surrealists engaged with the cutting edge technologies of photography and psychoanalysis in a way that wen't beyond reproducing the objective appearance of reality and tried to get to its subjective core. It love the humour, emotion and strangeness in the work.


For me art is about taking you somewhere new or showing you the world you know but in way you might not have imagined. Certainly I want the viewer to think, but I don't think they can think without feeling. I am interested in creating an experience that has a number of levels, where wonder and amazement lead to thought and insight.




“Your Place Is My Place.“ Rosi Braidotti in conversation with Patricia Piccinini by Rosi Braidotti and Patricia Piccinini

Interview for Fine Spind Denmark by Sophie Normann Christensen and Patricia Piccinini

Interview with Pauline Bendsen for Jyllands-Posten (Denmark) Jan 21, 2019 by Pauline Bendsen and Patricia Piccinini

Interview with Alvaro Fierro for JOIA Magazine 49 (Chile) 2018 by Alvaro Fierro and Patricia Piccinini

Interview with The Condition Report by Patricia Piccinini and The Condition report

Just Because Something Is Bad, Doesn't Mean It Isn't Good by Basak Doga Temur

Patricia Piccinini interviewed by Jane Messenger by Jane Messenger

Speculative Fabulations for Technoculture's Generations by Donna Haraway

The Naturally Artificial World by Laura Fernandez Orgaz and Patricia Piccinini

Border Patrol by Stella Brennan

We Are Family: Patricia Piccinini at the 50th Biennale of Venice by Linda Michael

Patricia Piccinini's Offspring by Peter Hennessey

Fast forward: accelerated evolution by Rachel Kent

One Night Love by Nikos Papastergiadis

Autoerotic by Amanda Rowell

One Night Love by Linda Michael

Atmosphere by Juliana Engberg

Biopshere by Edward Colless

Patricia Piccinini: Ethical Aesthetics by Jacqueline Millner

Patricia Piccinini - Early Installations by Peter Hennessey

The NESS Project and the Birth of Truck Babies by Hiroo Yamagata

Some thoughts about my practice by Patricia Piccinini

The Couple by Patricia Piccinini

The Field by Patricia Piccinini

The Bond by Patricia Piccinini

Some thoughts about Embryo by Patricia Piccinini

The Rookie by Patricia Piccinini

The Shadows Calling by Patricia Piccinini

Bootflower by Patricia Piccinini

Meditations on the continuum of vitality by Patricia Piccinini

Six observations about The Skywhale by Patricia Piccinini

Those Who Dream by Night by Patricia Piccinini

The Fitzroy Series by Patricia Piccinini

Eulogy by Patricia Piccinini

The Lovers by Patricia Piccinini

The Welcome Guest by Patricia Piccinini

The Observer by Patricia Piccinini

Aloft by Patricia Piccinini

Balasana by Patricia Piccinini

The Gathering by Patricia Piccinini

Perhaps the World is Fine Tonight by Patricia Piccinini

Bottom Feeder by Patricia Piccinini

Not Quite Animal by Patricia Piccinini

The Long Awaited by Patricia Piccinini

The Foundling by Patricia Piccinini

In Another Life by Patricia Piccinini

Big Mother by Patricia Piccinini

Bodyguard by Patricia Piccinini

Sandman by Patricia Piccinini

The Leather Landscape by Patricia Piccinini

The Young Family by Patricia Piccinini

Still Life With Stem Cells by Patricia Piccinini

Swell by Patricia Piccinini

The Breathing Room by Patricia Piccinini

Truck Babies by Patricia Piccinini

The Bond by Patricia Piccinini