Australian, born 1977; lives and works in Melbourne
Divine perception 2021
oil on canvas
Courtesy of the artist
In Western art, the skull is commonly read as a symbol of death: the inescapable nature of our mortality. This is especially true in vanitas, a genre of still life painting where the skull, often situated amongst worldly objects of desire, is said to depict the transient nature of life.
With my interest in Dutch still life painting, I have always accepted this reading. However, since developing my recent work, I have started to see this interpretation as quite simplistic. While the skull is a reminder of mortality, it is far more than this. It is also the container of consciousness, the centre where we locate ourselves, and our sense of being in the world. No other part of the body has the capacity to represent this. My new appreciation of the skull, as an image, has changed the way I now view these historic paintings.