In Puppy (2) Natalie Thomas pays homage to Jeff Koon’s Puppy (1992) as she explores the interaction between humans, pets, science and our experience of nature. Thomas uses tiny shells to cover a plaster spaniel creating a fur effect that references the folk art traditions of seaside town mementos, and a childhood spent growing up in Queensland.
From classical antiquity, the shell or mollusc has been regarded as one of the most amazing achievements of nature, and has frequently been imitated in works of art. The architecture and astonishing ornamentation of shells are used in this work to compose an external covering suggestive of armour on forms; recognisable as a puppy. The use of shells to represent form and fur is a means through which complex human experience is distilled down to simple motifs and ideas; in this instance the experience of walking with a dog on a beach. Research assures us of the significant emotional benefits of pet ownership. Whether the mechanism is touch, exercise, attachment, non-evaluative social support, or some combination of these, the human connection to the non-human animal world is enjoyed by many and merits our close consideration.
Natalie Thomas has a diverse and independent visual and performing arts practice encompassing sculpture assemblage, gardening and photography. She works with multiple themes which are driven by an interest in the media landscape, consumption and popular culture. Thomas has exhibited extensively as an individual and as part of a collaborative project ‘nat&ali’ at the National Gallery of Victoria, Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney), Institute of Modern Art (Brisbane) and Art Basel 2010 (Florida, USA). She is the recipient of the William and Winifred Bowness Prize for Photography, Monash Gallery of Art (2008) and a winner of the Darebin Art Show (2013).
Puppy (2) © Natalie Thomas.