Penny Byrne, ‘Hurt Locker’, 2015, Fondazione Berengo

Image rights: Photo credits Francesco Allegretto

About Penny Byrne

Ceramicist Penny Byrne reworks mass-produced, kitsch ceramic figures salvaged from thrift shops into politically charged, often violent, social critiques. Having trained as a conservator, Byrne meticulously breaks down down her materials by decapitating and disfiguring them, and building them up. It’s Murder On The Dance Floor (2010), for example, features a blood-splattered ballerina holding a sword and disembodied head, which Byrne calls an homage to Kill Bill. Byrne selects ceramic works for on their pomposity and the way they reflect cultural pretensions, and proceeds to turn them on their head, making the delicate violent and viscerally resonant. Addressing themes of slavery, dolphin slaughter, the ongoing war in Iraq, militant groups in Syria, and the worldwide Occupy movement, Byrne presents familiar materials in a new light with the goal of crafting a more powerful message.

Australian, b. 1965