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Louise Weaver | Phoenix, Indian Blue Peacock 2008–09 | Hand crocheted lambswool, cotton thread and plastic over taxidermied Indian Blue Peacock (naco cristatus), jute string | Bird: 193 x 96 x 28cm; base: 95 x 45 x 45cm | Purchased 2010 with a special allocation from the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

Louise Weaver ‘Phoenix, Indian Blue Peacock’ 2008–09

Louise Weaver’s sculptures engage with representation, evolution and metamorphosis. Her painstakingly crafted menagerie re-imagines taxidermy models in decorative ‘skins’ created with crochet, appliqué and weaving. This process of fantastic reinvention is transformative, and illustrates Weaver’s ongoing interest in the perceived distinction between artificial and natural, the ephemeral and the imperishable, the beautiful and the bizarre.

With their jewel-like feathers and recognisable strut, peacocks are the show-offs of the bird kingdom, and Weaver has amped up this quality to its (il)logical extreme. The bird, already transformed into a decorative object via taxidermy, now wears a dazzling technicolour dream-coat. If peacocks are legendarily showy, it makes sense that Weaver’s reconfiguration is the showiest of all. Darwinian evolution theory has been to a disco and the result is the opposite of an animal camouflaged: this bird could not be trying harder to say ‘look at me’.

The reality of the underlying beast is at odds with its extravagant plumage. By enhancing the form with an utterly over the top costume, Weaver points to a sustained interest in self-transformation, seen in the fashion of personal display; her works draw on an array of museologial, scientific, and material sources, including haute couture, and aesthetic ideals from cultures other than her own: from mythology to Surrealist artist Meret Oppenheim to Chanel.

Categories: Artist, Exhibition

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