“Bully”, a new solo exhibition by Claude Jones, opens at Artereal gallery in Sydney this Wednesday 7th December. The exhibition features works that question the human ‘bullying’ of other animals – a reference to our treatment of animals in laboratories, entertainment and animal agriculture.
The anthropomorphised bulldog character features in many of these new works with titles such as “Bully”, “Bull terror” and “Bulldog grip”.
Whilst the works focus on animal social justice issues, they also suggest oppression in the broader sense, raising questions about equity, ethics and human accountability. Within these mixed media narratives, the artist depicts anthropomorphised animals and humans as both protagonists and victims. Given Western civilisations history of oppression – of women, children, ethnic minorities, people of colour – we can readily recognise oppressor and victim behaviour as distinctly human. Ironically, animals can only ever be victims in these narratives. They may prey on weaker animals for food, but they do not hunt other animals in order to drug them, cage them, and train them to fight, race, work or perform tricks, let alone slaughter them en masse.
While the subject might evoke disturbing images, the artist employs soft colours and decorative elements that belie the sinister narrative content of the work – in the same way that the sordid underbelly of ‘legitimate’ mistreatment and exploitation of animals is repressed and sugarcoated.
Claude Jones is a New Zealand born, Australian artist now based in Munich, Germany. Her work focuses on the creation of hybrid and anthropomorphized sculptures and 2D images that question our complex and contradictory relationship with other animals. Jones has undertaken 6 international residency programs, has received several grants and awards and has exhibited widely. Her works are represented in numerous public and private collections.
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