Exhibition: Penny Byrne's #EuropaEuropa

Penny Byrne #EuropaEuropa figures on boat.JPG

In her first European solo show, Australian artist and ceramist Penny Byrne presents #EuropaEuropa, an installation work at the Michael Reid Gallery in Berlin.

#EuropaEuropa is composed of a series of vintage blue and white porcelain figurines clad in the iconic bright orange life-jackets that have now become synonymous with the refugee crisis.

Seeking to highlight the perilous journey undertaken by large numbers of migrants across Europe, #EuropaEuropa aims to recreate the sheer quantity and desperation of those risking their lives by crossing the Mediterranean. Adrift in an assortment of porcelain antique household serving plates, gravy boats, cups, and bowls, (delicate vessels that reflect the determination to find any means necessary to cross seas), the figures are stranded around the gallery in various states of safety. The crudely constructed bright orange rings that hang around the necks of the figurines are clumsily constructed, a statement from Byrne on the worrying trend of refugees being given fake or faulty lifejackets. A number of solo figurines, often without floatation aids, lay separated from the main groups across the gallery floor and attached to nails in the walls; a tribute to those left behind and those who have become victims of such a perilous journey.

As an established ceramics conservator, Penny Byrne is an expert in working with porcelain, a medium which she feels holds an unmistakably kitsch aesthetic. In using vintage figures to create such a politically charged and engaging piece, Byrne’s work begins to play with notions of history and memory, key ideas that emanate from #EuropaEuropa which bring to light how pressing this matter really is.

Penny Byrne’s sculptural works are politically charged, highly engaging and often disarmingly humorous. Using materials such as vintage porcelain figurines and found objects, bronze and glass, Byrne’s work presents an ongoing inquiry into popular culture and international politics. Her background in ceramics conservation and the law informs her practice. Byrne’s ability to work across varying mediums exemplifies how she challenges the boundaries and assumptions around
her art.

6th October – 4th November 2017
Michael Reid Berlin
Ackerstraße163, D-10115 , Berlin, Germany

For more information about Penny Byrne please visit: http://pennybyrneartist.com
Press: Ralph Barker, Damson Communications, 0207 812 0645 or arts@damsonpr.com