rona green: cake trail

Mira Fine Art Gallery
9-24 July, 2002

Rona Green is unashamedly low-brow. Ghouls, monsters, sci-fi writers, siamese twins and tattooed, chain-smoking fanged bunnies inhabit her modestly scaled digital prints, finding sanctuary in suburban back yards and anonymous interiors. Drawn with deliberate clumsiness her boogie-men and fiawed misfits posses a certain touching vulnerability and sexless, adolescent awkwardness.

An embarrassing skin condition plagues the potato headed scientist in The Antidote. Startled and tearful, apologetic even, he clutches the test tube that promises to cure his homeliness. Lobotomised zombies with broken capillaries stagger about in blood-shot dazes, eyes bagged and circled from oxygen deprivation or even, one suspects, too much late night television. Indeed, one imagines a common addiction to 'Star Trek', 'Buffy' and 'Babylon 5' among Green's imperfect entourage.

Even amongst the freaks there are geeks, like the high school science nerd in Clone or the kid that nobody wants to invite in Birthday Boogies who is only there because somebody's mum insisted, and who always manages to make a mess of the birthday cake. The look of utter disgust on the middle boogie's face is worthy of Dame Edna Everage, lip curled in a contemptuous sneer and eyes shooting daggers from his Lone Ranger mask. Green captures his side-kick in the Charlie Brown jumper at the perfect 'uh-oh' moment, eyes raised in nervous apprehension, while the cake culprit grimaces sheepishly through his stitched mouth. One lone balloon escapes into the blue over a paddle pop stick fence. No doubt that is his fault too.

Green's fiawed outcasts and weirdos are condemned to a solitary existence in friendless, empty landscapes and interiors. Even when more than one figure inhabits the space, there remains a distinct sense of isolation. The most tender images are those depicting an attempt at contact that never, however, manages to get beyond a tentative shadow cast by an outstretched arm. A solitary green hand reaches wistfully for the astronaut in Starman while a maternal alien attempts to embrace a dazed and cowering amputee baby in The Gray. While the use of shadows conforms, on the whole, to the horror flick menace arsenal, they also imbue the works with a certain yearning, amplifying the loneliness and alienation of these outsiders and spooks. This is not to suggest that Green is on some boogie-men-are-just-misunderstood campaign; a number of her boogies are genuinely ghoulish and disturbing. One strongly suspects the bones to be human in Dr Vishnu drinks Gulag, and the red-eyed, hooded Neighbourhood Crazy would give parents just cause to lock up their children. What saves Green from both cutesiness and gratuitous gore is a sincere affection for the odd, the imperfect, the paranormal. Her work is a genuine homage to comics, UFO sightings, conspiracy theories and other products of geek imaginations. Her digital images are immaculately drawn and superbly printed, while the stuffed calico poppets that should, by all rights, be embarrassing in their digital landscapes, manage instead to be fabulous. The humour that pervades Green's work is borne of empathy, not ridicule, and is never at the expense of her subjects.