Penny Burnett

Tension in the Garden

Tension in the Garden: a re-contextualising of narrative painting tropes within the site of the garden by expanding on the female and traditional mechanisms of the gaze.

Penny Burnett is a PhD candidate at the Tasmanian College of the Arts.

Penny’s area of research is about what is unseen. Many layers of paint and media create intense and oversaturated, ominous landscapes that look at what is hidden in both our native and traditional garden environments.

The paintings in Henry’s Restaurant are the result of a trip to Mount Field National Park, which is about an hour’s drive Northwest of Hobart. The protagonist in this series is the pandani, which is the largest heath plant in the world and found only in Tasmania.


Throughout history storytellers have used parables, fairytales, fables to provoke thought and reflection on complex life issues.

By constructing dioramas and models I create an alternative reality that allows me to access and engage with a more difficult issue. The works are painted fragments of my models which are intended as open ended narratives. These narratives explore the complexities of assisted reproduction, sexless conception, unknown donor sperm, and genetic engineering through characterisation. The characters are humorous takes on the roles and personalities within the medical, legal and social framework of IVF.

This is a personal exploration attempting to articulate the increasingly complicated question of where did I come from? – Penny Burnett