Original Art Gallery

Raise the Stakes

Katrina O’Brien

AU$11,500

Ink, acrylic, oil pastel + graphite on Arches paper
2022
130cm H x 216cm W | Framed size: 149cm H x 235cm W
One-of-a-kind original
Float framed in black woodgrain with perspex

This work will feature in Curatorial+Co.’s Sydney Contemporary 2022 showcase.

Says Katrina of this work: “This work has a bit of Florence and The Machine’s song, Seven Devils, interwoven with the marks. The basis of this work began during 2020, but it demanded to be different to the series I was working on at the time. As with many of my works, I put it aside for the day I could come back and answer it’s call.

The call came in the form of Florence Welch’s voice. The painting became a war dance. At the beginning of this year, I craved a hero; stories of great warriors both gentle and fierce, who triumphed over great adversary. When I discovered Proserpina and Ceres, Florence came floating out of the shadows singing this song to me. Her voice beckoned and I knew the painting had found it’s purpose.”

Says Katrina of her latest series: “This latest body of work was inspired by Martha Wainwright singing Proserpina, one of the last songs written by her mother, Kate McGarrigle.

This song took me by surprise. I hadn’t heard it before, though it was from 2012, from Martha’s album Come Home To Mama. I didn’t recognise her voice at first as my introduction to her was many years earlier with her song, BMFA. I had searched for it a day or two prior, remembering how angsty and perfect it was when I was a young woman.

The Martha in Proserpina was something different altogether. I felt a real feminine cry, and while more subtle than BMFA, far stronger in its intent even though it was much more delicate. A mother, Ceres, wandering the earth searching for her daughter, Proserpina, who had been stolen by the god of the underworld, Pluto. Taken from her youth, while picking flowers in a field with her friends.

And so, I was swept into the world of Greek and Roman Mythology. Full of rich imagery and dark tales.

Another piece of music moved to the fore; a piece just as important as Proserpina. Seven Devils by Florence and The Machine. The power and movement of this song resonated on a level that joined Ceres, mother of Proserpina, in her war cry across the earth. One that caused sparks to shoot up from the ground, into the night sky above.

An unrelenting, determined cry of a mother protecting her child.

Both songs spoke to the power of a mother. Strong, protective, unrelenting in the face of sorrow and danger to her children. A use of power, written off by the people who would think themselves better and stronger. A power that carried a great force behind it. A power to trample crops and lay waste to the earth, to render seeds un-growable, infertile. A power to crush darkness and leave nothing but dust and devastation in its wake. (If she so chooses.) A power to bring back the sun and cause seeds to grow again, to make fertile the lands that she once lay waste to. To cause abundant growth of everything, the fields returning to luscious green, flowers with brilliant shades of colour.

Over the last few years, I have borne witness to the love and strength of some really spectacular women. They aren’t self-seeking, and they want no recognition. They make promises to protect, and go to the ends of the earth to keep them. They comfort the dying. They boldly go where others would crumble. They love unconditionally.

These works are for all the mothers, nurturers, protectors. The ones who would go to the ends of the earth, or swim through a lake of fire to protect their children and the people they love. This is for my own mother, the mothers in my life, and the mother figures who watch over others.”

“The sun on her face lets her forget the rain on her back…”

Available at Sydney Contemporary 2022. Curatorial+Co. Booth A10.

Framing + Shipping Information

Float framed in black woodgrain with perspex.

Due to the size of this work, a shipping quote will need to be supplied. Please Contact Us to enquire.

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International shipping available. Contact Us for a quotation.

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