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Lismore Regional Art Gallery 

16 JAN - 28 FEB 2021

Emma Gardner is a Meanjin/Brisbane-based artist, whose work spans drawing, print-making, installation, and performance. In this exhibition, Gardner invites us to get lost in tales of adventure, betrayal, and of being lost in the wild...ish lands of the supernatural. The artist’s work is narrative-driven, using an array of fabrics, stitching and drawn figures to tell stories that straddle between fact and fiction, and past and present. In particular, the works selected draw on the tales of the witch of the east Baba Yaga from Russia and ‘The Handless Maiden’ from the Brother’s Grimm in Germany. Both position a female protagonist who faces adversity by being tricked and manipulated in their search for freedom. 

Questioning the veracity of these stories, Gardner positions her own figure in the works as a way to keep a watchful eye over lessons of morality in fiction. Gardner includes herself in the narrative by creating a cyanotype monogram of her body, which she creates by sitting still for long durations of time, waiting for the light to capture her silhouette. This process is one of manual labour that echoes the struggles of the protagonists in the stories. The artist invites us to ask what messages are being told and retold in stories about how women should behave? Gardner creates a world in which we can navigate the mystical natural landscapes while retaining our ferocity. 

Words by Isabella Baker

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