Unleashing the beast within

19. 48ARTS1

A HUGE black bear seems to shift in its stiff oil canvas setting, disappearing into the black background from one angle, its eyes on the viewer from another, as its large tongue licks the sleeping face of a small child.

Whether the bear is comforting the infant or contemplating lunch is up to the viewer, artist Celene E Bridge says.

During painting she discovered the bear is the symbol of Artemis, Greek goddess of animals and childbirth, protector of the young, all of which fitted rather well with her solo exhibition The Fearmongered Beast and its Religion of Violence, she reckons.

The exhibition wasn’t intended as a reference to the escalating violence of Muslim extremists, “but I realise it has a lot of connection,” she says.

The works “anthropomorphise” animals imbuing them with human trait: “[They] are portrayed as violent, evil, uncivilised,” Bridge says.

Animals’ names have become synonymous with certain trait, but where does that comes from? she questions.

“Are these reactions felt because of their nature and appearance, or due to their created character?”

The 26-year-old has a degree in fashion and textile design from Curtin University, but despite a couple of successful runway shows was turned off the industry, and went back to her first love.

The Fearmongered Beast and its Religion of Violence is on at Merenda Gallery, High Street, Fremantle until December 13.


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