The multifarious artworks and objects created by Australian artist/designer/illustrator Beci Orpin have a cult following of designer lovers who are entranced by her magical artworks, homewares and accessories. Whether she is at the helm of Beci Orpin (her homewares and accessories label), making clothes for little ones for Tiny Mammoth (her children’s clothing line), or working on illustrations for her long list of commercial clients, the one element that is consistent in Orpin’s work is a sense of childlike nostalgia that is suffused with dark undertones. Her latest exhibition entitled “Infinite Shape of Rainbows” continues Orpin’s fascination with fashioning a visual harmony between disparate elements, and includes limited edition giclée and gocco prints, mixed-media collages and hand-painted kokeshi dolls.
Inspired by “60s book covers, educational toys and 18th century paper-cuts”, Orpin’s new works marry pop art aesthetics with folklore details. The iconography that has become her signature – weeping clouds, owls, military medals and hanging hearts – is still intricately integrated into her pieces, as Orpin explores the uncertain polarity between light and dark, good and bad. In this sense, her exhibition’s title alludes to the colourful palette of her works and is a metaphor for the “pretty” illusions that she fabricates in her art. While a rainbow is merely a beautiful and intangible image of refracted light, behind the visual splendour and decorative quality of Orpin’s work is an underlying tension seen in the representation of handguns, skulls and gas masks. Like a children’s fairy tale, all is not what it initially appears to be. The giclée prints featured above are entitled “Life”, “Death”, “Peace” and “War”.
“Infinite Shape of Rainbows” is on at Melbourne gallery Lamington Drive until 6 May 2010.