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Home Sweet Home: works from the Peter Fay collection
11 October – 18 January 2004

Fiona MacDONALD | Five paces | 1989
Fiona MacDONALD
Rockhampton, QLD, Australia 1956
Five paces 1989
collage of photo-offset images
28.0 X 21.4 cm
2002.132

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Fiona was a young artist, along with a lot of young artists who were showing in the Mori Gallery in Sydney

PF Fiona was a young artist, along with a lot of young artists who were showing in the Mori Gallery in Sydney. And this was a work for a show which was site specific, at Elizabeth Bay House, in Sydney.

And it’s a wonderful colonial home with many rooms, and there were four or five artists showing work, and some had been allocated rooms, and there were hallways, and all sorts of things. And I’d got down there early, and in the library and also the specimen room of Elizabeth Bay House — there were specimens on the wall; there were insects, it was like being in a sort of a nineteenth century drawing room.

And at first I looked at Fiona’s piece, and if you get quite close to it all you notice are the butterflies; it’s like a series of specimen butterflies pinned to a board, and I just thought ‘Oh, that must be one of the works from the holdings from the house here’.

And then when you walked back from it this face came out at you, which was made up or composed of the butterflies, [which] then fell into and became part of the face, and if you stood at five paces, as it’s called, and moved your head backwards and forwards, this double image occurred.

And it was just so exquisitely balanced and beautifully small in a room where there were giant stuffed birds, and cabinets teeming with life, I just thought that this (piece) held the whole poetry of that building, and in a beautiful way it had such a delicate and very intricate making, and it was the first Fiona piece that I bought.

I had been looking at other pieces of hers but I’d often been a bit slow to get to the Gallery, and she was doing a lot of collage work in those early days, and so I was absolutely thrilled to have this piece.