I hope these paintings with their use of the exotic and the everyday elements and bound within the ongoing concerns of Natura Morte help us to see the world as a wonderful and magical place alive with possiblity...
Kate Bergin studied at the Victorian College of the Arts from 1990-92. While the main building was located on St Kilda Road the Painting Department was housed at the back of the National Gallery of Victoria.
Being able to access the collection on a daily basis and study it up close had an enormous influence and gave her an appreciation for great painting technique.
A favourite artist discovered during this time was Hugh Ramsay, an Australian artist considered one of the great students of the Gallery School. He was celebrated at the Paris Salon of 1902 but died at the age of 29 in 1906. I found some beautiful sketches of his in the storerooms from his time at the Gallery School.
Since graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts in 1992 I have been exploring the still life genre and the idea of hunting and collecting.
From my initial paintings of hundreds of red delicious apples to collections of moths and butterflies which I gathered during my five year stay in Cairns, and my discovery of Ellis Rowan and her adventures and beautiful artworks, I have moved on to collections of birds and animals mainly taken from the storerooms of Museum Victoria and also from live animals in zoos around the country. I am also gathering my own collection of bird and animal specimens particularly my much painted foxes.
These creatures are my “intelligent collaborators, symbols of thought and imagination” as Kynaston McShine says of Joseph Cornell’s constant use of birds in his artwork.
All these objects and creatures are presented on the white cloth as a kind of altar-like offering to the viewer. This display also represents the connection with the tradition of still life which I am very much a part of, particularly after reading Norman Bryson's Looking at the Overlooked which tracks the journey of the still life genre.
The continuing presence of the spoons, spectacles, telephones, guns and keys with which the creatures seem to be “drawing a spark from their contact” as Andre Breton suggested in his earliest writings, reminding us that life can be absurd, beautiful and sometimes like any fairy-tale, just a little bit frightening.