Mercury (Hobart)



ARTIST Anna Berger has long been intrigued by the “cabinets of curiositie­s” contained within natural history museums.

“I started looking at animals and plants and human beings’ fascinatio­n with collecting things, not just animals and plants but things in general,” says Berger, an art teacher at St Mary’s College in Hobart.

“Several hundreds of years ago royalty used to collect these mythologic­al creatures and objects like unicorn’s horns and other strange things. They were magical items and I became fascinated by that history of keeping creatures of wonder and strange objects to try and possess them.”

Berger has created her own cabinets of curiositie­s for Vandemonia­n Naturalia, an exhibition of her prints at Wild Island Gallery in Hobart.

The series of 17 prints shows a variety of taxidermie­d Tasmanian animals, including birds, Tasmanian devils and pademelons, and plants contained within ornate glass cabinets inspired by European architectu­re.

“This shows the displaceme­nt of these creatures that were once alive and thriving in their own environmen­t, but are now caught, classified and frozen in an animate yet lifeless state,” says Berger, a Fine Arts graduate of the University of Tasmania who has worked as a printmaker in recent years.

This exhibition follows on from her recent historical Recherche Bay series.

Berger says tags on the animals in Vandemonia­n Naturalia indicate they are taxidermie­d specimens.

“People are thinking a lot about extinction these days, with the decimation of our native flora and fauna through bushfire and climate change,’’ she says.

“[The work reflects] the thought that possibly all we might have left in the future are some taxidermie­d animals.”

Vandemonia­n Naturalia is on display at Wild Island Gallery, Hobart, until March 6.

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