Artist's Statement

The principle of ‘behavioural enrichment’ is an animal husbandry tactic deployed to enhance the lives of captive animals, provoking thought and encouraging activity, by introducing variant stimuli to their otherwise static environments.

My current work acts as a response to two curious worlds: Western zoo exhibits and American mid-century modern interior design photographs. There are many similarities in the way these two different sets, zoo exhibits and interior design images, are active and how they are intended to relate to the viewer. 

Each painting combines references from these idealized habitats to create new worlds that emphasize dramatically staged elements of both environments. The complex painted environment draws the viewer in with its spectacle of colour and decoration, and then alerts them of something amiss through a signifier: usually a miniature zoo animal. The animals are presented as domesticated, motionless and foreign in these theatrical rooms, giving a combined impression of displacement and dislocation. 

In furnishing the painted interiors, I also include objects that reference, directly or indirectly, behavioural enrichment devices used in zoo exhibits. To further put into question human intent and the purpose of the object, the room, the animal; the enrichment devices have often been placed with the wrong species and camouflaged within the room. 

Each painting is constructed with images in images: asymmetrical compositions, contradicting light sources and disintegrating spaces that balance between an illusion of depth and an abstract flatness. The environments in turn create a new and unsettling space for the imagination to contemplate many possible metaphors, including the artificiality of zoos and our homes, as well as the way we choose to present both wild animals and ourselves. 

Each work created contains layers of research and paint, coursing subconsciously beneath the project is a recognition that the subject matter communicates with the finished painting itself. Perhaps, it too has the possibility of being deployed as a form of an enrichment device for humans.