Past Exhibitions

The Last Hurrah
3 - 17 August 2012, Linton & Kay Contemporary Gallery, Subiaco, Perth
First group show with my new gallery Linton & Kay.

Cabinet of Curiosities
25 November - 10 December 2011, Murano & Gullotti Gallery, Subiaco, Perth

As early as the Renaissance the term ‘cabinet of curiosities’ has been synonymous with power and discovery. Intriguing collections of natural history, art and the bizarre amassed by the wealthy offered glimpses into the secrets of the world and shone a tantalising light into the unknown regions of the human mind. In this exhibition I have formed a symbolic cabinet of curiosities by amassing a collection of items which allude to moments of wonder in my own life. Connections to Masonry, magic and divination are referenced strongly in this group of forty new works revealing how each of these experiences left an indelible mark on my early awareness. These episodes raised questions in my young mind as to how much I really knew about the deeper aspects of life and the world in which I was living.

Oil paintings, gouache, pen and ink, sculpture and the transfer of images onto butterflies and moths offer the viewer a tantalising array of objects with which to whet the desire for discovery. Each painting is based on an image from my growing catalogue of Victorian cabinet cards and is displayed alongside the original. These are executed in a style which references the Renaissance love of storytelling through symbolism and colour and the overdrawn insects displayed under glass look back at the much loved storybooks of my childhood and represent the joy of momentary wonder frozen in time like the flash of a memory upon the eye of the mind. 

The Velvet Album
19 November - 3 December 2010, Murano & Gullotti Gallery, Subiaco, Perth

In late November 2009 a red velveteen Victorian photo album passed into my possession. Within its ornate butterfly printed pages I was given a glimpse of one Victorian family. I found these images hit a chord within me and I could not turn away until I had explored them in more detail. In the photographs the intricacies of these people’s lives were only hinted at through staged backgrounds and elaborate props but even these could have been illusions. I had heard of the hired clothes and stiffening braces used to construct a fantasy of how these people wished to be remembered. I felt a compulsion to rework a selection of the images which particularly spoke to me; to elaborate upon them and breathe life into them once again.

This collection of paintings seeks to create a new album, a surreal dream-like tribute to lives which have been all but forgotten. In the reworked images bodies turn to stone or wood, ribbons weave through lovers and pets take on human characteristics. Utilizing large scale and enlivening colour I wish to pay homage to the important moments in life, moments which transcend centuries and are common bonds which bind the lives in the photographs to our own. I look at photos of my own childhood, marriage and moments in my own life and hope that in the future when they are all that is left of me someone will look on them with a loving eye and respect the life which was linked to them enough to treasure them as I do the images kept within the Velvet Album.

Lepidoptera Recordatio
22 - 25 April, 2010, Art Melbourne, Royal Exhibition Building, Carlton

Lepidoptera Recordatio is an intimate collection of forty new works which channel my yearning to preserve the fragility of memory through the loving act of creation.  This collection revels in the human compulsion to analyze and re-analyze the string of memories and emotions which compound to form the essence of life. Steeped in Victorian era sentimentality and overburdened with sugary romanticism these alabaster skinned ancestors, painstakingly preserved butterflies and collections of fetishistic dolls exist to remind the viewer that without memory and reverence for the past we may indeed lose our souls to a soulless age.

Remembrances, Collections and Keepsakes
30 May - 7 June, 2009, Moores Building, Perth

Remembrances, Collections and Keepsakes is the culmination of the past seven years of artistic development for New Zealand artist Fern Petrie. This is her first international exhibition and acts not only as a retrospective; showcasing examples of her changing style, but also provides a window into her recent artistic practice in a body of works created after her relocation to Perth in 2008.For this retrospective Fern has revisited each of her five solo exhibitions and created new works which sit alongside their predecessors. These images explore previous ideas from a later viewpoint and speak of the way change and continuity can exist simultaneously in the work of one artist.Most importantly, this exhibition highlights change. The stories of these works are not confined to the past or to one person alone, each holds the potential to become keepsakes and remembrances away from the artist and their retrospective context. They have the capacity to take on a life of their own and exist to help form new memories in others.

The New Black - Gothic Art for the 21st Century
4 - 22 April, 2006, Artstation, Ponsonby Road, Auckland

The New Black centres on issues of strength, sexuality, fantasy and the macabre as four Auckland artists examine the impact of Gothic subculture on their lives.Rather than being an all black affair, the exhibition sets to challenge stereotypes surrounding Gothic culture, inviting viewers to re-evaluate their concept of Goth through contemporary art.Organiser and artist, Fern Petrie says: "Goths are often portrayed through the media as a highly destructive and detrimental social group without merit, integrity or individuality. This exhibition seeks to showcase the intelligence and creativity which is too often shunned in the portrayal of this culturally black-listed group."The New Black exhibition includes:• Miss Petrie’s paintings, prints and sculptures which draw similarities between Gothic culture and the Victorian era.• Mary MacGregor-Reid’s striking portraits which signal her interest in the representation of strong women within Gothic subculture.• Richard Scholes’ manipulated photographs which explore transitional states including order to disorder, health to decay and life to death.• Moon Lee’s graphic drawings which reflect his background as an animator and investigate how pessimism can be powerful.

Seasons of the Soul
21May - 3 June, 2005, The Depot Artspace, Devonport, Auckland

‘Seasons of the Soul’ represents a collection of past and recent works which talk about the two major influences in my life and art – my Maori and European ancestry.Through these works I acknowledge my Maori Whakapapa through reworking designs found in Kowhaiwhai (rafter paintings), Ta Moko (tattoo) and Whakairo (carving). Links to generations past and ones relationship with the land are represented through the symbolic unfolding of the koru, depicting growth, nurture and regeneration. Many of my works share the actual colouring of organic paints and inks found in the New Zealand bush and I have endeavored to portray the incised lines of Ta Moko and the fluid strength of Whakairo.In contrast the theatrical nature of the Victorian period is represented in the other works in this exhibition, highlighting issues of acceptance and social expectations. The Victorian era was a time of great industrial growth and exposure through colonization and these works serve to highlight the Victorian interest in death, science, religion and the bizarre. The collection of dolls pays homage to iconic Christian sculpture and the works as a whole serve to impress upon the viewer the culture of collection and fetishism encouraged by museums and private collectors.I see the works in this exhibition as valuable memory aides and items which seek to capture the sense of wonder in an age which in many aspects is not so dissimilar to our own. Emotion and symbols of growth are represented in the rich earthy colours of the Maori works while the dark opulence of the Victorian pieces addresses ideals of beauty, society and personal worth.By positioning these works together in the gallery space I wish to show the diversity of our cultural heritage in New Zealand today and the close connection and interweaving of the cultures and influences which make up each one of us.

7 - 19 March, 2005, Spiral Gallery, Queen Street, Auckland

In this exhibition strength and Whakapapa are symbolized through the continually unfolding form of the koru. As an image taken from nature, the koru represents a theoretical approach to the idea of identity and personal development and can be interpreted as an expression of the infinite possibilities of time and circumstance.Hard-edged and tightly interwoven, the pen and ink images in ‘Rahurahu’ are intensely organic, expanding outwards in interlacing patterns similar to the myriad fronds of a fern. These fronds overlap, dominate and are dominated by their surroundings representing the complex interaction of relationships and choices in our unfolding lives.These elaborate black and white images contrast highly with the softness and simplicity of a series of pencil renderings which develop the portrait. Koru envelops these humanized images as an extension of the personality and emphasize the concept of contemplation and a connection with ancestry and the past.The juxtaposition within the gallery space of these two sets of images portrays the physicality and complexity of our corporeal bodies overlaid with the emotional awareness of our lives unfolding on the growing network of life and experience.

Tales from the Drawing Room
17 - 28 August, 2004, The Studio Gallery, Kingsland, Auckland

The images in this exhibition look at the idea of the interplay between science, the bizarre and the cultural appropriation within the constructs of Victorian society as a comparison to our own interpretations today.The advent of the industrial revolution elevated many families in Victorian England to a middle class position where it was possible to enrich their lives and surroundings with cheap industrially produced goods. Radiation and anatomical study were offset by the peddlers of special victuals and the swell of the pink areas on the world map illustrated the expansion of the Empire and the booming trade of curiosities. In many cases personal and museum collections rarely exhibited more then a cursory degree of information pertaining to purpose or societal use of these objects.The works in this exhibition were inspired by George IV’s Brighton Pavilion and like Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde; each image combines a visual juxtaposition which mirrors the Victorian fascination with the peculiar and otherworldly. In keeping with the cultural arrogance of the time I have included only a title for the works, extending the distance between object and viewer further through extravagant framing. Each image tells its own tale; however whether it is one of appropriation, curiosity or imagination it is up to the viewer to decide.

Second Skin
16 - 24  March, 2004, Spiral Gallery, Queen Street, Auckland

Throughout my time at Auckland Universities Elam, I was intensely interested inix months in Melbourne and had the weighty task of taking stock of my life. I was drawn to the boxes in the attic containing memories of a time when things seemed less complex. Remembering my joy at constructing the detritus of society into interesting new forms I took on the task of re-evaluating my life through these dolls.Over the ensuing months I constructed these tools with which to understand myself and society more clearly. They revealed a cuddly, lighthearted and comical side in the form of a doily covered teddy bear and a bandaged up Scooby Doo-like mummy. Alongside these objects I placed a pregnant baby with STD results plastered over her body and a macabre tattooed skeleton. Each doll took on its own personality and I hope that those that saw and now own some of these precious objects feel this same connection with them as well.