Petrina Hicks

The Longevity of Myth

For Sydney artist Petrina Hicks, the echoes of mythology, history and symbolism make for rich and fertile ground.

By Andrew Gaynor

The first few years of the 2000s witnessed a burst of activity in Australian photography that has left us a with a suite of remarkable images of the human experience. Three of the most enduring are Darren Sylvester’s If All We Have Is Each Other, That’s OK (2003), Jane Burton’s brooding Badlands (2001) and Petrina Hicks’ Lauren (2003), a series of haunting portrait studies of an albino girl sitting alone against a blank background. With her eerie alt-beauty presented in a glossy advertising format, Lauren is elevated to a position of disturbing presence and desirability, commodified yet unattainable, fragile yet impervious. The series is a remarkable statement and heralded the arrival of a distinctive new photographic talent.

In the years since, Hicks’ fascination with flawed or alternate beauty has continued through unsettling images such as Shenae and Jade (2005), where the model holds a budgie gently in her mouth; Lambswool (2006), which again features Lauren, turned away from the camera whilst cradling a huskie who bites on her arm (described in the catalogue as “an uneasy pairing”); and Emily the Strange (2011), an arresting image of a girl holding a hairless sphinx cat. It has been a strong and consistent trajectory, which has seen the artist garner several significant awards as well as residencies in Berlin, Paris, Mexico and California, with the last two falling in 2015. This year has also seen solo shows in Berlin, Sydney, Melbourne and at the VOLTA art fair in New York, multiple group shows, and, as if that wasn’t ... Subscribe to read this article in full

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