Vanessa White lives and breathes budgerigars.
An award winning breeder, White is entranced with a bird that has become renowned as a household pet yet retains its exotic allure.
White has well and truly captured her love of all things budgie in her heartfelt and aptly titled exhibition, Budgie Nation, which is taking place at Frankston Arts Centre.
The artworks, which White produced while listening extended sets of Jerry Garcia (of the Grateful Dead fame), shine with wit and humour, which is enhanced by a joyous melding of the abstract Expressionism and pop art styles.
White says: “I’m fascinated in our interaction and ongoing relationships with birds and this is reflected in the artworks. People tend to both identify with and project themselves onto animals.
“People react sympathetically to the unique personalities of animals and the forms of behaviour that mimic human behaviour and strike a chord with us.”
White adds: “Unlike many other forms of animal or bird art, my work is both ironic, artistically playing on sublimated forms of humour. At the same time, I am deeply engaged with the key subject of work, the budgerigar, having recently become a prize-winning bird breeder.
“I now better understand the idea of the budgie’s remarkably diverse personalities, the subject matter which underlies the ideas and content of my paintings.”
White says the pieces in Budgie Nation are intended to amuse, engage and gently provoke reflection on our relation to animals, adding: “My paintings utilise both art history and the sensuality of both paint and the process of painting itself to reflect the pleasure and sense of wonder people have in their relationships to animals in general, and for me, budgies as a special class of pets.”
White’s artworks shine with the wit of a knowing artist working with the imagery of the conundrum of the exotic-ordinary – rare breeds of common pet birds.
“The artworks in Budgie Nation explore of the personality of budgerigars, as characters set within an abstract field of expressionist, poured paint. This is elevated, depicted disproportionately large, on a totemic pedestal,” White says.
A talented artist, White’s diverse creative output includes video and painting. Her 2020 video work ‘Salt Lake’ was acquired for permanent collection and exhibited in group video art exhibition ‘Moving Pictures’ at LaTrobe Regional Gallery, Morwell. ‘Salt Lake’ also screened the entire month of March at the Adelaide Festival Centre outdoor and indoor media screens.
National and international recognition include Best Cinematographer, Alternative Film Festival, Toronto, Canada, 2019, collaborative screen and performance work at Espoo International City Theatre, Finland (2018) and collaborative film and glass work at Ebeltoft Glasmuseet (Glass Museum), Jutland, Denmark (2013).
Her pieces have also been acquired by Artbank, City of Yarra and Box Hill College of TAFE collections. Art residencies include Bundanon Trust and Hillend NSW; SIM, Iceland; NG Creative Art Residency, France and shortlisted for Saari Residency 2020, Finland.
Budgie Nation is now on exhibition at Frankston Arts Centre – subject to COVID-19 restrictions – until Saturday, 25 September. For more information, please visit artscentre.frankston.vic.gov.au or phone 9784 1060.