The Art of Peter Booth Forum
An afternoon of thought-provoking discussions on the work of Peter Booth. Featuring presentations by Stephanie Trigg (Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor of English Literature at the University of Melbourne), Evelyn Tsitas (writer, curator and arts worker) and Anthony Fitzpatrick (Curator, TarraWarra Museum of Art), the forum will explore various aspects of the artist’s singular practice, from his powerful expressions of the human visage, to his challenging hybrid and monstrous figures, to his fascination with the forces and mysteries of the natural world.
About the forum
Drawing on her extensive research into emotions, affect, and facial representation, Stephanie Trigg will explore Peter Booth’s representations of the human subject. The human face is often privileged as a powerful conceptual site for expressing human identity and human relationships: it is itself a catalyst for feeling. Peter Booth’s faces—so often veiled, obscured or distorted in some way—challenge many of our presuppositions about the direct, easy and legible relationship between facial expression and feeling. Nevertheless, the faces in Booth’s works mobilise compelling affective responses.
From the chimeras of ancient Greece to H.G. Wells’s prescient 1896 science fiction novel The Island of Doctor Moreau, humanity has always had visions of monsters wrought into the fabric of the visual and creative arts. But the fascination with the merging of the human and animal is particularly disturbing because the monster is partly human and, therefore, the monster is us. Evelyn Tsitas will explore why Peter Booth’s human animal mutants, defiant and alone in desolate landscapes shattered by catastrophe, continue to challenge and unsettle viewers with their hybridity.
Booth’s emphasis on the values of intuition and experience, his exploration of intense psychological and emotional states, and his fascination with the elemental dynamisms and forms of nature, place his work firmly in the lineage of European Romanticism. However, as the art historian Terry Smith has suggested, Booth’s art is a form of ‘Romanticism to match the nuclear age’. Anthony Fitzpatrick will explore the ways in which Booth expands upon the Romantic tradition to express his feeling for the generative verities of nature in a time of widespread environmental despoliation.
About the speakers
Prof Stephanie Trigg is Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor of English Literature at the University of Melbourne. Her work is principally concerned with medieval literature, medievalism studies, and the history of emotions. She was a foundation member of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (2011–22). Her current research project, ‘Literature and the Face’, draws on the Centre’s interest in emotions, affect and facial representation.
Dr Evelyn Tsitas is a writer, curator and arts worker. Her academic research is informed by an interest in our relationship with the transmutable state of the human body, in particular the merging of the human and animal into a hybrid creature that occurs in the creative and literary arts throughout human history. Her doctoral research and creative practice reference the mythology, narrative and symbolism of the human animal hybrid.
Anthony Fitzpatrick is a curator and writer. Since joining TarraWarra Museum of Art in 2011, he has curated numerous solo and group exhibitions and has written a range of catalogue essays. Recent curatorial projects include Peter Booth (2022), Heather B. Swann: Leda and the Swan (2021) and Sidney Nolan: Myth Rider (2021).