The works of Penny Byrne are at once highly political and beautiful. Consistently working with ceramics, she combines vintage porcelain figures with other materials and objects that disrupt and unsettle the original figure. Sometimes Byrne paints text and motifs directly onto the porcelain surface or uses objects such as vintage Action Man accessories and decorative glass ornaments to bring radically alternate stories to these familiar domestic figurines. Her recent pieces reference conflicts and protests connected to global political affairs such as the Occupy Movement and events in Syria, giving these characters voices and new lives which are far removed from their original purposes as meek sheperdesses or farm girls feeding ducks. Byrne’s meticulously manipulated ceramics are saturated, too, with wry humour.
Byrne is based in Melbourne, Australia and holds a BA in Fine Art Ceramics. In 2015 she will be showing in the Venice Biennale, a project in collaboration with the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The artist has won several awards and prizes, and has shown her work extensively in the UK, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. Notable exhibitions include those at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, The Gallery of Western Australia and Saatchi Gallery in London.